Elon Musk. Visionary. Renegade. Creator.
You can’t keep your pulse on the media and news today without encountering Elon Musk, Tesla, or Space X, and the attendant praise, disbelief, and outrage they elicit.
Effusive praise or scathing criticism seem par for the course at this point. But if you monitor Google News, Elon and his reality shattering companies are there nearly every day, sometimes more than once.
Yes — this is relevant to my field: the creation of aesthetically pleasing, responsibly-designed and constructed homes that enhance and change lives. The natural course of this creative flow and its construction is known as Design-Build.
Design-Build through history
A few relevant words from history; A time when an architect was synonymous with “master builder,” having worked their way up the ranks from apprentice and journeyman to master, where they were able to direct others.
In Gorgias, written by Plato in 380 BC, Socrates declared:
“Whenever there is a gathering in the city to choose doctors or shipwrights or any other craftsmen group, surely the rhetorician will not then give his advice, for it is obvious that in each such choice it is the real expert [one most skilled, or artistic] who must be selected. And when it is a question about the building of walls or equipping of harbors or dockyards, we consult, not the rhetoricians, but the architects.”
Plato’s pupil, Aristotle wrote in Metaphysics:
“…the architects (master builder) in each craft trade are more honourable and know in a truer sense and are wiser than the manual artisans (journeyman), because they know the causes of the things that are done.”
The basic point I’m making here is that for millennia the individual regarded as the skilled expert is the one who says and then competently can DO.
Case in point, Elon Musk.
A changemaker of a generation
Elon Musk is a changemaker. His creativity, vision, and soul seem to march to a different drummer. There aren’t many people seeking a life-goal the perpetuity of the human race…on another planet no less.
While clearly visionary, Elon is a far cry from theoretical — no ivory tower here. Elon Musk gets things DONE. Detractors be damned, the man can accomplish what he sets out to. He can set a goal and drive it through — and in a truly spectacular fashion.
Think SpaceX, Tesla, and Solar City, 3 of Elon’s revolutionary companies. Visionary and bold concepts moving humanity forward despite doubters and those who would scorn such aspirations and dreams.
These are not minor ventures. Sure, Musk has also failed at multiple business endeavors. So be it. This is not someone who’s reveling in esoteric theory — he can envision, design, plan, create, and execute.
Twelve years ago, the thought of a stylish and practical electric vehicle was laughable. Something still far from sight and definitely not embraced by Big Automotive.
Now the Tesla Model S has become a cultural symbol of style and success — environmental consciousness meets sexy. Zero to 60 in 3.2 seconds and an EPA range of 370 miles (600km), higher than any other electric car on the market.
Elon Musk as Design-Build
Elon Reeve Musk was born June 28, 1971 in Pretoria, South Africa. He is an exceptionally precocious entrepreneur, inventor, and visionary humanitarian. He has six children, is the Founder of multiple ventures including Paypal, Tesla, SpaceX, and Solar City, and is ranked by Forbes as the 40th wealthiest individual on the planet with a net worth of $19.4 billion.
Some of his stated goals concerning his trifecta of one-of-a-kind companies include changing and shaping the future of humanity’s energy usage, effectively solving climate change, and ensuring the continued existence of the human race through the foundation of a colony on Mars.
Interestingly enough — Musk is actually doing it. The true accomplishment, from conception through product, is exceptional.
This is Design-Build. Elon Musk’s companies are all Design-Build. Period.
Musk did not try to incorporate his vision and product onto existing production lines. He did not hand the production of his vision and design over to another entity and hope they could produce it in the time frame, quality, and budget needed by both himself and ultimately the consumer.
He did it himself. From start to finish in Design-Build fashion. This is ownership and full responsibility.
The future of technology
Tesla currently produces its vehicles in one massive factory staffed by nearly 10,000 workers near Fremont, California. The factory currently is hitting production levels of over 4,000 vehicles per week across its multiple lines of vehicles. Tesla also has a gigantic battery production plant, called its Gigafactory, outside Reno. Upcoming plans are also in the works to open another battery plant in China. In all of this, Tesla seems to be in the news every few hours.
On the 28th of September 2019, Elon and Space X unveiled their prototype for commercial space travel to the moon, Mars, and beyond — the Starship MK1. The announcement was made at their South Texas site, 11 years after the anniversary of Space X’s first successful launch of the Falcon 1.
The vision for this new iteration of ship is interplanetary travel with up to 100 passengers, and Space X has announced it will take Japanese billionaire Yasuka Maezawa and a group of artists around the moon in the 2020s. Space X has been pioneering an approach to space flight using modules which can be launched more than once — greatly reducing the cost of the entire endeavor.
The road has been far from smooth for Elon Musk — it rarely is when you are trying to change the world.
I wanted to highlight this as an exceptional example of a true visionary using Design-Build to bring his creation to the world.
I do think Socrates, Plato and Aristotle would be proud…