When Elon Musk sent an email that asked employees to communicate directly with the person in the company who would facilitate the fasted way to solve a problem he essentially flatten the management structure. People by in large are smart and come up with genius solutions to problems all the time but knowing how to communicate that to a manager who maybe does not see or understand the problem can cause slowdowns and even blocks to efficient work flow. Everyone wrestles with their importance in the relationships around them, this is escalated when those relationships are with employees you are supposed to be managing. This set the expectation for employees to go to other departments and managers in the company and takes pressure off their direct manager to have to determine if the problem/solution is the right one for the company. Even if the problem/solution is not the right one it gets other in the company aware of it and fosters other ideas and collaboration for what is the right solution. There are of course new potential problems with this as well. Managers may be skipped when they had a solution all along, multiple employees may be experiencing the same and going to different departments with problems when the manger already aware on the problem is already working on it. Another issue would be the potential of considerably more email from different directions coming to managers who probably are already overly busy trying to do their job.
Elon Musk has the right idea for an innovation company. With innovation, communication has to be allowed for everyone to talk to anyone. GM on the other hand has an assembly line which does not need to have the rule of everyone can talk to anyone. With an assembly line operation, communication is at a minimum if any. The workers that come to work go to their designated areas of operation and begin working. Everyone knows what and how they have to do. With a company like Tesla, innovation is the driving force. A company cannot keep one's ideas or perspective at bay. Elon has it right when he says that everyone can talk to anyone. Plus, with the idea of communication, it makes the workers and anyone else working with Tesla feel like they belong there.
The potential problems with this approach are little to none. I can really only see two problem. The problem is everyone walking up to whoever sends this memo out and just talking nonsense to that person. The other problem I see is everyone walking up to any manager and doing the same thing. With some companies using this act of communication and having employees act like children, companies will have a hard time controlling who says what to who. I believe that Tesla is using this type of communication because the company started with that type. A company that has been in operation for decades decides to start using this type of communication will have a lot of problems in the long and short run.
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