Musk requirement principle
Requirements must belong to an individual, not a team or department. The person putting forward the requirement or constraint must agree that they must take responsibility for that requirement.
- You may build something that isn't needed - If it doesn't belong to an individual, there's no one to understand why the requirement is essential.
- You may build something that nobody wants - If an individual isn't assigned and leaves the team, it can get lost in project backlogs and end up being made, even though no one wants it.
- Individuals can take ownership because they may be the only person that understands. When building a complicated thing (e.g. a space rocket or software engineering project), there are often many hyper-specialised people who have profound knowledge about the individual characteristics of a part of that project. That knowledge may be impossible for the team to know and answer questions; thus, the individual should own it.
The principle originated from Elon Musk, during his Starbase Tour: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t705r8ICkRw&t=958s
Here's the transcript:
"Whatever requirement or constraint you have, it must come with a name, not a department. "
"Cause you can't ask the departments, you have to ask a person and that person who's putting forward the requirement or constraint must agree that they must take responsibility for that requirement."
"Otherwise you could have a requirement that basically an intern two years ago randomly came up, off the cuff, and they're not even at the company anymore. "
"But it came from the, let's say, Aero[dynamic] loads department. They're like, actually, there's no one in our department that actually agrees with that."
"This has happened several times. And actually, there's no one at the department that currently agrees with that."