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Elon Musk Talks About the Importance of Physics, Criticizes the MBA

Soulskill posted about 5 months ago | from the free-body-diagrams-trump-earnings-projections dept.

Businesses 343

New submitter ElSergio writes "In a two-part interview with the American Physical Society, Elon Musk, founder of PayPal, Tesla Motors and SpaceX, talks about how important it is to be able to think in terms of first principles, a tool learned as a physics student. Later in the interview, he recommends against obtaining an MBA, claiming, 'It teaches people all sorts of wrong things' and 'They don't teach people to think in MBA schools.' In fact. if you are in business and want to work for SpaceX, you will have a better chance getting hired if you do not have one. According to Musk, 'I hire people in spite of an MBA'. He goes on to point out that if you look at the senior managers in his companies, you will not find very many MBAs there."

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343 comments

couldnt agree more (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45475167)

Totally agree with this, Its should be same in IT companies as well

Re:couldnt agree more (5, Funny)

i kan reed (749298) | about 5 months ago | (#45475321)

But then who's going to move you to open floor layouts to "improve collaboration"?

Re:couldnt agree more (5, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 5 months ago | (#45475623)

But then who's going to move you to open floor layouts to "improve collaboration"?

Well, I consulted with the IT department and the facilities department. Facilities says that, since it's a leased space, it would be pretty expensive to pull out all the cubes and make the necessary wiring changes.

IT said that all the PCs already have mics and built in speakers, and they can get the work-experience kid to hack together a system that samples background noise from all over the office, mixes it, and plays in continuously from all PCs (with the process running in a security context high enough that the peons can't turn it off) by next week for no money.

In light of that, we've decided that a simulation of the open-plan experience is the best way to go. Plus, those worthless non-team-players who "work from home" will love it when we roll it out to them.

Re:couldnt agree more (5, Informative)

al0ha (1262684) | about 5 months ago | (#45475355)

Elon is not the only genius who thinks an MBA is bogus and he's 100% correct; but we have to give FZ his due as he was way ahead of the curve on this thinking.

" When people started taking MBA seriously, that was the beginning of the ruination of the American industrial society. When all decisions are based on an MBA's concept of numerical reality, you're in deep shit, because the only thing that can be judged as real is that which can be proved by a column of figures. And when all aesthetic decisions are turned over to these kinds of people, who use these criteria to make steering decisions for a company with no regard for people and no regard for what the product really is, and the only thing that matters is maximizing your profit, you have a problem. Because you can't have quality then; you cannot have excellence. Quality's expensive. I think most of these people that come from business schools have the desire to make sure everything is cheesy. That's what happens when you do things that way." - FZ

http://home.online.no/~corneliu/mother1.htm [online.no]

Re: couldnt agree more (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45475699)

Yeah.... The finance world disagrees with you (and Elon). So does coca cola. Nike. Ford (still bigger than tesla and didn't need a bailout)... And I bet a whole host of MBAs worked on his IPO. I also wonder how many consultants Tesla has running around with MBAs.

Animosity to any title is just petty jealousy that someone was able to play the game better than you. And MBAs play the game very well which is why they're vilified. Elon has a talent for the business game... But you can also learn it and that's what the MBA does. Also why you see so many in middle management. Watch out for the MBA with talent.

Re: couldnt agree more (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45475731)

By the way, proper "spreadsheet thinking" is to take you intuition for good ideas and use the spreadsheet to prioritize them based on potential return. Be that market size or cost savings.

Mostly... (0, Troll)

mythosaz (572040) | about 5 months ago | (#45475181)

Most non-STEM education beyond associate-level courses is bullshit.

...mostly

Re:Mostly... (3, Insightful)

bob_super (3391281) | about 5 months ago | (#45475251)

Though it wouldn't hurt many to actually have lengthy and non-propagandist History and Geography lessons.

Re:Mostly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45475635)

Waste of time. We have Wikipedia and Google Maps.

Re:Mostly... (3, Insightful)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 5 months ago | (#45475683)

It will hurt the person receiving it, who then has to watch the rest of the world re-enact history.

Being able to laugh at the average level of geography knowledge doesn't make up for it.

Re:Mostly... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45475787)

"...non-propagandist History and Geography lessons."

Ah yes, classes that teach the ~real~ truth, which of course only you and a small minority of other enlightened people know of.

Gosh Oh Golly if only we all could have your in depth knowledge of the Real Truth...there would be an end to war and poverty and hunger and unicorns would carry people where ever they needed to go!

Re:Mostly... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45475277)

...says one who has never seen or learned anything outside of STEM. The wuniverse is huge and complex, my friend, and the things you ignore go far beyond what you know. Let give you but one example: when you fall sick, the people who treat you have some background in "science, technology, engineering, and mathematics", but otherwise have studied for 10 years or so to become experts in their non-STEM field,

Re:Mostly... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45475403)

Unless you're talking homeopathy, I'm pretty sure medicine falls under the category "science".

Re:Mostly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45475551)

Ask a physician if what he does is science, if (s)he is a scientist. There is a some science in medicine but mostly medicine is a field of applications.

Re:Mostly... (2)

alexo (9335) | about 5 months ago | (#45475647)

Ask a physician if what he does is science, if (s)he is a scientist. There is a some science in medicine but mostly medicine is a field of applications.

So is Engineering.

Re:Mostly... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 5 months ago | (#45475565)

Unless you're talking homeopathy, I'm pretty sure medicine falls under the category "science".

Until the surgical robots finally take over, there is a nontrivial element of skilled craftsmanship in the messier areas of medicine. You wouldn't exactly call a surgeon 'blue collar' (or pay one accordingly); but the surgeon is doing something surprisingly similar to sculpture, just inside your torso, and with years of school to instruct him in what parts are 'patient' and what parts are 'pathology' so that he cuts the correct ones...

Re:Mostly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45475459)

I'm pretty sure medicine is a STEM field, or am I misunderstanding you or the definition of STEM?

Re:Mostly... (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 5 months ago | (#45475621)

Usually it's not considered STEM, which stands for Scientific, Technical, Engineering and Math. You could argue medicine is a technical field, but that's not how the term is generally used.

Re:Mostly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45475665)

Medicine is applied science.

Re:Mostly... (3, Insightful)

i kan reed (749298) | about 5 months ago | (#45475307)

Yeah, you don't know what you're talking about. Post doctoral research in social sciences(which don't typically fall under STEM, in spite of that "science" there) tends to be informative and useful. Graduate level history has a ton still to uncover. I could see your argument applied to thinks like art of philosophy, but I don't really agree.

If anything the T part of STEM(and that's where my job is) is among the most suited areas for associates degree.

"I think X is mostly bullshit therefor X isn't really useful" isn't a good approach to academia.

Re:Mostly... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45475399)

Yeah, you don't know what you're talking about. Post doctoral research in social sciences(which don't typically fall under STEM, in spite of that "science" there) tends to be informative and useful.

I've yet to see the findings from even the most prominent and widely-known psychology/sociology studies ever used to advance the human race in any way. Can somebody enlighten me about how post doc research in these fields is changing society for the better?

Re:Mostly... (2)

i kan reed (749298) | about 5 months ago | (#45475463)

That's just an argument from personal incredulity, and you know it. Basic social introspection is trivially useful, and is used for more effective governance, as long as politics don't interfere. Understanding recidivism rates, for example, is an incredibly basic tool of a healthy legal system. Societies that apply data-driven understanding of how people work to their governance make for better places to live.

I'm not saying all social sciences are useful, but if that were the threshold, you'd have to prove all software is useful too.

Re:Mostly... (1)

Zephyn (415698) | about 5 months ago | (#45475579)

Basic social introspection is trivially useful, and is used for more effective governance, as long as politics don't interfere.

When has politics not interfered with governance?

We'd be able to fly as long as gravity doesn't interfere.

Re:Mostly... (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about 5 months ago | (#45475737)

Basic social introspection is trivially useful, and is used for more effective governance, as long as politics don't interfere.

It does sometimes? I'm not sure how much quantification you're wanting here. Not every job in government is inherently political.

Also: word to the wise, we can fly, in spite of gravity. Because good designs can work around known forces. You seem to be taking a very 1 dimensional perspective on this.

Re:Mostly... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 5 months ago | (#45475655)

Are you saying that running society by pandering to my basest prejudices and whatever 'common sense' I pulled out of my ass isn't the best of ideas?

Fucking ivory tower elitists. Always spitting on the common man.

Re:Mostly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45475419)

lol. Social Science should be renamed to "Politcally Correct Mantras repeated until people start buying our bullshit."
Take a look at at how many "Social Scientists" fail to acknowledge Biology playing a role in development. When asked, they claim, "I don't consider that question to be interesting."

There's an enitre series of documentaries (by a Norweigian comedian no-less) that show how thoroughly full of feces the social sciences are.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YTOFXLl7eh4

But I do agree there is way more to life than STEM.

Re:Mostly... (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about 5 months ago | (#45475487)

Oh, okay. I'm sure your anonymous screed against non-specific individuals in a field is totally a valid criticism of the field in general.

Common Ground (1, Insightful)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 5 months ago | (#45475191)

Finally, something Musk and I actually agree on.

MBA == waste of time and money.

Re:Common Ground (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45475385)

The modern MBA culture has done a lot to shape the path of how US corporations are made now, and it isn't a good one.

In the right places, they are useful. Sales and marketing for example need those types, because without accounts receivable, the whole company will be bankrupt shortly.

However, if you let their mindset take over a company, they will "optimize" it out of existence. The battle-hardened dev team that is putting out decent code will be tossed out for an "optimal" offshore solution, or H-1Bs. The corporate brass who has an idea and a vision will be replaced by "optimized" company officers whose vision is their golden parachute upon bankruptcy or sale.

The top tier CS that gets good results gets replaced by an "optimized" phone bank from offshore, and due to jacked polls, have almost no complaints... but in reality, the CS complaints are now moved to Facebook and the public web.

MBAs have their place in a company, but you have to keep them contained and leashed down else they will "optimize" your business into bankruptcy.

Re:Common Ground (3, Insightful)

schnell (163007) | about 5 months ago | (#45475441)

News flash: highly successful engineer who did not go to business school thinks business school is a waste.

Shocking update: highly successful businessperson who went to business school thinks engineers don't know what they're talking about.

This is pretty normal... the path you took to get where you are starts to look like the best or only path. There is room for all specialties and approaches when used in the right way and mixed with other viewpoints.

Re:Common Ground (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45475611)

Sadly, there are not enough people open to this kind of thinking.

Re:Common Ground (2)

JoeMerchant (803320) | about 5 months ago | (#45475443)

But, if Tesla fails and SpaceX succeeds, I think that will be a solid proof that MBA challenges are actually more significant than "rocket science" physics.

Even without the success/failure results of either company, the challenges Elon has faced in Tesla are a clear demonstration of what MBAs (and Lawyers and Lobbyists) are good for - success in the real world.

OTOH, we need a Lawyer / Lobbyist / Broker tax now, and we need it badly. There are too damn many parasites in this world, and precious few of us actually sitting on /. posting all day, er, I mean creating things!

Re:Common Ground (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 5 months ago | (#45475739)

" the challenges Elon has faced in Tesla are a clear demonstration of what MBAs (and Lawyers and Lobbyists) are good for - success in the real world."

While this is true, I suspect that what he sees (and dislikes) about the fact is that MBAs (and especially lawyers and lobbyists) are necessary tools in much the same way that soldiers are: they fight with the other guy's MBAs, lawyers, and lobbyists, laying waste to much real value in the process; because the alternative of having the other guy's MBAs, lawyers, and lobbyists march in unopposed is even worse.

Engineers, scientists, and the like, by contrast, get sent out to prod the obnoxiously complex and notoriously noncompliant laws of nature into enough semblance of obedience that they can be put to good use.

Obviously, there is value to having a good lawyer, or a good army, at your back; because there are others out there who have the same, and don't have your best interests at heart; but there is a certain tragedy in watching men, time, and money, get thrown into the meatgrinder in order to keep two adversaries off one another's backs; while there is a certain triumph in seeing the application of human effort bring new areas of nature within the scope of human understanding and utility.

Re:Common Ground (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45475447)

Actually most small businesses don't fail because they don't understand how to do what they do. They fail because they don't understand the money side of the business. Mainly they don't understand cash flow. It turns out there are good reasons to have people around that understand money related issues.

Re:Common Ground (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45475775)

In fact, it's a

woMBAt == waste of money brains and time

There is not much to an MBA (5, Interesting)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 5 months ago | (#45475193)

Years ago I read a book called The 12 Hour MBA Program [amazon.com] . I have never met an MBA who knew something important about business that wasn't in that book.

Re:There is not much to an MBA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45475429)

And I've seent book "Complete German in two weeks"
But seriously I do not have too much respect for MBA degree either...

Re:There is not much to an MBA (5, Funny)

CubicleZombie (2590497) | about 5 months ago | (#45475511)

Years ago I read a book called The 12 Hour MBA Program [amazon.com] . I have never met an MBA who knew something important about business that wasn't in that book.

Wow!

That's twice as fast as all my programming books!

Re:There is not much to an MBA (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45475521)

The blurb on that book contains the following:

reports by MBA alumni that less than 10% of the MBA curriculum is actually useful,

Which is telling in itself.

Re:There is not much to an MBA (2)

Kjella (173770) | about 5 months ago | (#45475763)

Don't worry, the MBA has read this [amazon.com] and feels exactly the same about you. It goes so well with the law degree most /.ers have, you do know they call it the soft and hard sciences, not easy and hard sciences right? I'd call it the corollary to the Dunning-Kruger effect, the more you excel in one narrow field the more you think you could wing it in everything else. It's why professors are pretty obnoxious to relate to and a lot of IT people are the same just because they know how to command a machine around but couldn't train a dog if their life depended on it. Like it or not big corporations tend to do a lot of stupid things and without MBAs running around trying to find what the ROI on projects are we'd see a lot more stillborn projects. I've been on far more idiotic projects without a proper business plan than with a business plan, it of course doesn't guarantee that it won't be idiotic but some of it wouldn't pass the giggle test if you tried asking how this would ever be profitable. Because engineers just like to solve problems, they don't like to ask if there's a market of people willing to pay to have this problem solved.

Phases of Evolution (0)

dorpus (636554) | about 5 months ago | (#45475197)

Many startup bosses have said the same things before. When their businesses grow, they will quietly hire MBAs for needed expertise on complex accounting, legal issues, and human resources. Physicists like to think they are smarter than everyone else, but they often make big fools of themselves on non-physics topics that require social intelligence.

Re:Phases of Evolution (5, Insightful)

ElSergio (1956248) | about 5 months ago | (#45475257)

Yeah, except this start up boss has founded 3 successful multi-billion dollar companies in 3 separate industries. I'm willing to bet he probably has a good idea on how to run things. (How to not have your cars catch on fire is another issue :P )

Re:Phases of Evolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45475323)

Yeah, except this start up boss has founded 3 successful multi-billion dollar companies in 3 separate industries. I'm willing to bet he probably has a good idea on how to run things. (How to not have your cars catch on fire is another issue :P )

The first person to design a car that does not catch on fire will be set for generations....

Re:Phases of Evolution (1)

ElSergio (1956248) | about 5 months ago | (#45475339)

Haha, Very good point.

Re:Phases of Evolution (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 5 months ago | (#45475375)

Haha, Very good point.

Not really - a car made of solid granite would be impossible to set on fire, if useless as a means of conveyance.

Yea, I know I'm being a pedant, but these days it seems like you almost have to if you don't want to end up buried under metric tons of bullshit.

Re:Phases of Evolution (1)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | about 5 months ago | (#45475591)

Not really - a car made of solid granite would be impossible to set on fire, if useless as a means of conveyance.

Not true. It was very useful in Carmageddon.

Re:Phases of Evolution (3, Interesting)

dpilot (134227) | about 5 months ago | (#45475525)

Not really... Musk recently came out with a rebuttal to the "rampant FIRE! threat of his cars." So far nobody has been hurt, and in every case I've heard of the car warned the owner that it was in distress, and allowed/assisted time to evacuate. Plus the battery pack design itself does a good job of comparmentalizing the problem.

No doubt someday someone will take a Tesla at high speed right over the vertical support for a guard rail, and rip the battery pack the length of the vehicle. But you also have to ask how survivable that kind of accident would be in a conventional vehicle.

Don't forget, lithium batteries have almost the energy density of gasoline - but not quite. Plus gasoline is a liquid, once the tank is ruptured, you don't have a lot of control over where the gas flows. I saw one mention that statistically the Tesla, even with 3 fires on its low production quantity, is ahead of gasoline fires on conventional vehicles.

Re:Phases of Evolution (1)

ElSergio (1956248) | about 5 months ago | (#45475639)

Great points. I admit that my remark was more an attempt at humor than criticism. Thanks for putting it in perspective.

Re:Phases of Evolution (5, Informative)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 5 months ago | (#45475293)

And then the MBAs will take over, fire the physicists, hire a bunch of equally vile and sociopathic marketing types, and will find ways to cut corners, move all manufacturing to low-tax cheap-labor cess pools, hire equally vile and sociopathic IP lawyers to sue anyone who ever had an idea that even vaguely resembled the company's, rob the company of every dime it has, drive it into the ground.

Rinse and repeat.

Re:Phases of Evolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45475515)

i'm seeing this happen to the company i work for right now. how do you deconstruct these people when all you have is questions on an all-hands meeting?

Re:Phases of Evolution (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 5 months ago | (#45475607)

Start brushing up your resume, and if you own stock, start looking at getting rid of it now and be prepared for the day when you and anyone else with any skills is given the boot. You really don't want to be on this airplane when it crashes. You can be sure the MBAs won't be.

Re:Phases of Evolution (3, Interesting)

Shakrai (717556) | about 5 months ago | (#45475295)

There's a reason why the Manhattan Project needed Leslie Groves [wikipedia.org] . Few people remember him today, but it's not much of an exaggeration to say that he was every bit as important to the success of that endeavor as the scientists. He was also the guy who supervised the construction of the Pentagon, completing it ahead of schedule and under budget.

Re:Phases of Evolution (3, Informative)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 5 months ago | (#45475451)

Saying you dislike MBA's is not the same as saying you don't need managers and executives. Groves was brilliant at organizing and running major projects, but he was an army officer for the Corps of Engineers, not an MBA. The degree hadn't even been invented back then, which helps explain why we aren't speaking German or Japanese.

Re:Phases of Evolution (2)

Vanderhoth (1582661) | about 5 months ago | (#45475341)

Are you sure that's not just happening in your head? Because, unless you're talking about Big Bang Theory, I don't see Physicists making fools of themselves.

On the other hand, I always see and hear about MBA's who jump into a business, throw out buzz words like "streamline" and "synergy", whirl around like a tornado, weak havoc on business processes they don't understand and move on to the next project to give someone else a headache while leaving all the underlings to figure out where the cow ended up and how to get back to some sense of normal back into their work.

Physics versus MBA (5, Interesting)

Okian Warrior (537106) | about 5 months ago | (#45475349)

Physicists like to think they are smarter than everyone else, but they often make big fools of themselves on non-physics topics that require social intelligence.

A quick search of Amazon and eBay turns up quite a few "quick MBA" selections. Titles like:

The One-Day MBA
MBA in a Day: What You Would Learn at Top-Tier Business Schools
The Mobile MBA: 112 Skills to Take You Further, Faster 2012 -Man
The 10-Day MBA
Complete MBA For Dummies

I couldn't find anything remotely similar for a degree in physics.

What else you got?

Re:Physics versus MBA (2)

ElSergio (1956248) | about 5 months ago | (#45475361)

Yeah I'm glad you posted this, because I would have been a little miffed if I just spent 5 years getting my B.S. in Physics only to find out there was a 30 day option.

Re:Physics versus MBA (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45475423)

Try a little harder?

Physics For Dummies
Physics Made Simple
E=MC2: Simple Physics: Why Balloons Rise, Apples Fall & Golf BallsGo Awry
CliffsQuickReview Physics
The Physics Quick Reference Guide

Re:Physics versus MBA (1)

ElSergio (1956248) | about 5 months ago | (#45475533)

Good books, I have read most of them. But they are almost all to cover first year physics, not the entire degree program.

Re:Physics versus MBA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45475597)

What do you think these "quick MBA" books are covering? I've never seen one that does more than scratch the surface of financial markets.

Re:Physics versus MBA (5, Funny)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 5 months ago | (#45475693)

Quick MBA books probably cut to the chase and tell you how you can dismember, cook and eat competing managers, creatively shit on subordinates from great heights, and how to fool semi-conscious boards into letting you set up your stock dumping scheme.

That's the first chapter. The rest of the books is phone numbers and email addresses of lawyers who can help you bury the bodies and elude indictment on RICO charges.

Re:Physics versus MBA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45475743)

You don't need an MBA for any of that. All you need is a publicly traded company. The quarterly financial statement and how management is rewarded is the seed from which that behavior comes.

Re:Phases of Evolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45475757)

Thank you, I really appreciate such insightful comments from socially inteligent peopple with MBA degre like you.

PS: useful vocaulary for hiring staff reading CV
"got MBA" - does not have any real degree he could present
"socially indeligent" - must use adjective "socially" otherwise people who know him would spill cofee on his CV

The MBA Disease (1)

cusco (717999) | about 5 months ago | (#45475205)

I tend to dislike the celebrity business owners, but the more I hear Musk talk the more I like him.

Re:The MBA Disease (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45475629)

He is definitely a new breed of CEO, the last generation being the Jobs type that were selfish unto death. Even the robber barons of the Gilded Age like Frick and Carnegie left concert halls and hospitals.

Time will tell if Musk is different from the Jobs type of CEO and actually leaves something worthy behind as a legacy.

Better chances if you do not have one? (2, Interesting)

garcia (6573) | about 5 months ago | (#45475223)

As a one-time worker bee who is now a part of senior management (with an MPA and not an MBA, although they are pretty similar) I understand what he is saying but I disagree that people should have a better chance of being hired because they have the three letters next to their name.

I hire for open reqs based on the PERSON and their SKILLSET, not the degree they may or may not hold. You know, the way it should be. What Musk is promoting through another one of his ridiculous soundbites is that we should pay more attention to degrees (good or bad) than the skills someone brings along with them.

Musk can be absolutely brilliant and incredibly and insanely stupid all at the same time.

Re:Better chances if you do not have one? (3, Informative)

ElSergio (1956248) | about 5 months ago | (#45475313)

If you read the actual article (and even the snippet above) it says you have a better chance being hired at HIS companies if you do not have one, based on the percentage of his upper level business people and the degrees they hold. Also in the original interview he goes on to state exactly what you are saying, that he hires based on skillset, and in his opinion the people without MBAs tend to be the more eligible candidates if you ignore degree. His hireing practices are based more on what have you done, rather than what agree you have obtained, since your academic carer can be fixed to an extend by what classes you choose to take in order to bump up your GPA.

Re:Better chances if you do not have one? (1)

garcia (6573) | about 5 months ago | (#45475343)

I did read the article and while I had a typo in the first line of my comment, I think it's silly that he says he would be less likely to hire someone with an MBA.

Re:Better chances if you do not have one? (1)

ElSergio (1956248) | about 5 months ago | (#45475371)

I am not super familiar with his practices at Tesla or PayPal, but having personally experienced the hiring process (Up to the point where I wasn't hired haha) I can tell you he does everything a little different than everyone else. But look where it has gotten him.

Re:Better chances if you do not have one? (2)

Archangel Michael (180766) | about 5 months ago | (#45475351)

One of the things I've learned over the years, is that an MBA does nothing except prove that a worker has jumped through a set of hoops, like a good doggie. This is useful information to a degree, meaning the person is trainable and given a set of goals is likely to attain them.

What a MBA does not prove is how successful they will be running any business, that comes from experience, which is the best education I've ever had. But my degree means nothing to me today, simply because it is not relevant at all any longer, except those that look there first. Elon Musk is correct, The Degree is mostly useless except getting in the front door.

Re:Better chances if you do not have one? (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 5 months ago | (#45475369)

I hire for open reqs based on the PERSON and their SKILLSET, not the degree they may or may not hold.

Musk is essentially saying the same thing. However, where someone else with that philosophy would tend to think positively about an MBA (even though it wasn't an essential or bottom line requirement), he thinks negatively about it. However he did say he would hire people with MBA's anyway, if they met his other requirements.

Re:Better chances if you do not have one? (4, Interesting)

Alomex (148003) | about 5 months ago | (#45475455)

Henry Mintzberg [wikipedia.org] has data that shows MBAs tend to correlate with negative traits. This means that an MBA at the very least starts with a "higher probability of not being a good employee", so now they have to prove that they are better than the norm.

Re:Better chances if you do not have one? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45475381)

As a one-time worker bee who is now a part of senior management (with an MPA and not an MBA, although they are pretty similar) I understand what he is saying but I disagree that people should have a better chance of being hired because they have the three letters next to their name.

I hire for open reqs based on the PERSON and their SKILLSET, not the degree they may or may not hold. You know, the way it should be. What Musk is promoting through another one of his ridiculous soundbites is that we should pay more attention to degrees (good or bad) than the skills someone brings along with them.

Musk can be absolutely brilliant and incredibly and insanely stupid all at the same time.

Most people are... but in this case, I think he's somewhat correct. If you are running a business, and want to maintain status quo, a bunch of MBAs can help you achieve that. If you want velocity and novel business practices, an MBA will more often than not get in the way, as they've been trained in "the right way of doing things" which, while it is *a* right way of doing things, may not always apply, especially in a quickly changing market with funding for market experimentation. Basically, Musk is saying that he trains his MBAs on the job, and trains them to a different standard than most schools use. So seeing someone with an MBA tells him "I'm trained to approach things in a different way than what you're looking for" -- which means that he then has to examine whether that training is ALL they have, or whether it is something they are able to use when applicable and drop when it gets in the way. Most people who fall into the second category will also have some non-business degree, and will likely be hired for that skillset (like you mention), NOT their MBA training.

Sometimes the limitations someone brings with them are just as important as the skills they bring.

Re:Better chances if you do not have one? (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 5 months ago | (#45475475)

we should pay more attention to degrees (good or bad) than the skills someone brings along with them.

Actually he said:

M: [An MBA program] teaches people all sorts of wrong things. ...
M: I hire people in spite of an MBA, not because of one.

So, he hires people who have the skills he needs, basically overlooking the (mis)education. I do see his point about a misallocation of resources (MBA school) but young kids might be forgiven for believing that it's worthwhile. On the other hand, I know some "I can't get a job, I'll go to MBA school" people who aren't out creating their own jobs.

On top of that, SpaceX and Tesla are probably getting a very skewed portion of the applicant pool, so Musk probably has selection bias in his data. Which could swing the other way on MBA school credentials.

Middle-manager's Business Accreditation (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45475275)

I have many degrees that put letters after my name, including an MBA. I still remember how one of my professors railed on the MBA because all it did was enshrine "spreadsheet thinking," ruined creative thinking, make people more susceptible to buzz-word thinking, make dumb people feel smart, make them better at smart CYAs for dumb decisions and about 5 other criticisms that currently escape me. He even called them the "Middle-manager's Business Accreditation" because people at the top cannot behave that way, or they ruin companies, so most MBAs won't make it there for long; and the people at the top love MBAs at the middle level because the top brass are not limited by the MBA's decisions and know how to control them.

Same Argument as Certifications (1)

Marc_Hawke (130338) | about 5 months ago | (#45475283)

Maybe not in his mind, but definitely in mine. The 'thought-path' that ends up in a certification is not something I want to encourage. Perhaps if it were more like an RPG, and a certain amount of 'XP' resulted in a new certification rank.

Dungeons and Dragons (4, Informative)

Piata (927858) | about 5 months ago | (#45475291)

I think the most important thing from this interview is that Musk played D&D and is a self professed nerd.

Buying a Tesla (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45475299)

Do I get the cremation package as an extra or is it already included in the price ?

list of SpaceX MBAs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45475301)

As usual, those who bash MBA most loudly are the ones that hire them:

Example SpaceX employees w/ MBAs including his CIO
http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=599586
http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=607870
http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=10662209

And of course, his investors, which probably all have MBAs
http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=15592967

There is no such thing as a bad education, only bad students.
I have an MBA, it was totally awesome to get, I did it while working full time, learned a lot, apply the knowledge often.
The bashers are just looking for media attention, esp when they hire so many of them.

Re:list of SpaceX MBAs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45475397)

Was reading and/or reading comprehension not part of your MBA program?

"I hire people in spite of an MBA"

Re:list of SpaceX MBAs (2)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 5 months ago | (#45475575)

As usual, those who bash MBA most loudly are the ones that hire them:

Read more carefully: Musk said he hired people in spite of having MBA's, not that he wouldn't hire people with MBA's.

There is no such thing as a bad education, only bad students.

There are both.

I have an MBA, it was totally awesome to get, I did it while working full time, learned a lot, apply the knowledge often.

If you also have a serious technical degree, and think that about your MBA, you're the exception. I've known some very astute people with a serious technical education, who also got MBA's. They all say they did it for the credentials. They say that while they learned some useful basics in the MBA curricula, none of them were terribly impressed by it (including Wharton, etc.) and think they could have obtained the important knowledge with much less fanfare and expense.

Hey Obama Supporting Douchebags (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45475303)

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/11/20/second-wave-health-plan-cancellations-looms/

"Second wave of health plan cancellations looms

A new and independent analysis of ObamaCare warns of a ticking time bomb, predicting a second wave of 50 million to 100 million insurance policy cancellations next fall -- right before the mid-term elections.

The next round of cancellations and premium hikes is expected to hit employees, particularly of small businesses. While the administration has tried to downplay the cancellation notices hitting policyholders on the individual market by noting they represent a relatively small fraction of the population, the swath of people who will be affected by the shake-up in employer-sponsored coverage will be much broader. "

That bears repeating "50 million to 100 million insurance policy cancellations" and "the swath of people who will be affected by the shake-up in employer-sponsored coverage will be much broader".

That means YOU are next on the chopping block.

Shit sandwich people, OPEN WIDE.

I never met a physicist... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45475311)

Musk is the exception and is riding along on the anti MBA trend in Silicon Valley. Look at Google's job adverts. A good number of them require an MBA because they seek that broad general knowledge and ability to see the whole playing field.

Suck it up folks, especially IT. You don't want a sysadmin trying to manage product development or deployment.

Let's look at his track record (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45475319)

PayPal: shitty company, how about you guys pay your clients, eh pal?

SpaceX: ok, fun, but really it's just SpaceEgo trip

Tesla: I agree with the market on this one, Tesla has really gone up, it's on fire!

seriously, shareholders of a publicly traded company have an expectation that their money will be managed properly. Like, finances will be looked over by finance people, manufacturing operations and logistics by people who have studied operations, IT by IT people, marketing by marketing people.... those are all MBAs, and if you look up those courses, they are all in the business schools. And many more, I just got tired of typing.

Groupthink not wanted? (4, Informative)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 5 months ago | (#45475333)

According to Musk, 'I hire people in spite of an MBA'.

What's that, he doesn't like mindless groupthink, and the inability to understand the difference between a rule of thumb and actual thought, judgement and understanding of reality? No wonder the guy is a failure.

this is a fluff piece about a nerd celebrity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45475353)

There is no useful or actionable data here. He mentions rockets without going into any hard info on how he's made his cheaper to launch. He also fails to acknowledge the value of his team. Here is your new Steve jobs.

Take it from an MBA expert (5, Interesting)

Alomex (148003) | about 5 months ago | (#45475367)

MBAs on paper are supposed to teach you a lot of useful things. In practice most students walk away with one thing in their mind: how to cut costs to a minimum even if it drives the business to the ground so long as they collect their bonus before it does so.

You can read all about it from Henry Mintzberg [wikipedia.org] who is a Cleghorn Professor of Management Studies at the Desautels Faculty of Management of McGill University, and has spent the last two decades trying to fix the present MBA mess.

His book "Managers not MBAs" is a must read for anyone thinking about hiring an MBA.

Re:Take it from an MBA expert (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45475527)

I never understood this. Do people actually hire an MBA instead of a manager? My understanding is that HR usually just uses "MBA" as a filter to avoid trying to find 10 people to interview out of a stack of 100,000 applicants. This is the only reason everyone requires a college degree now as well. Otherwise normal hiring practices should apply. We can thank the internet for this assinine system.

Breaking News.... (2)

endoboy (560088) | about 5 months ago | (#45475379)

Successful business leader XXX announces that his college program (or lack thereof) is better than any other....

I've met serveral good MBAs... (2)

DontBlameCanada (1325547) | about 5 months ago | (#45475435)

And a shit load of bad ones.

This good ones, were excellent technically then took what they learned in MBA in terms of business functions and applied them in a way the made everyone more effective and productive. The bad ones tended to be poor performers in their chosen fields who ran to an MBA as a way to avoid working on technical details that they couldn't comprehend.

The worst were smart, but evil. They took an MBA as a fast path to management, where they gulled their peers with enough technical know how to achieve their dreams of power and influence. The more power they got, the less tolerant they became of other "smart guys." They were viewed as threats that might expose potential technical short comings in the MBA's plans.

Re:I've met serveral good MBAs... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45475495)

The same can be said about engineers.

MBA people ruin companies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45475523)

Keep MBA people away from your company. They will leverage, shift paradigms, acquire, sell off, and ultimately destroy any company they run. Buzz-word this and buzz-word that. They know better than anyone else and you are stupid for doubting them. Well, yeah, thanks for ruining my company, I guess I must have been wrong.

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