Tesla's Innovation Strategy Essay

Total Length: 1076 words ( 4 double-spaced pages)

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Exploiting Innovation

Elon Musk's companies rely heavily on innovation for their success. They take industries that are struggling to evolve, such as electric cars and space travel, and seek to enter those businesses with innovative strategies to bring fresh products to market. Because of this, these companies have significant competitive advantages. Tesla has introduced several major innovations that are transforming the automotive industry.

At a high level, Musk overpromises, but supports this with a desire to innovate using unconventional methodologies. He will set out an impossible task, then challenge his teams to find ways to make it happen. Sometimes these teams are put together for the express goal of tackling the challenge. Musk does not put limits or constraints on how these teams solve the problem, and this gives those teams the freedom to find their own innovative solutions. Typically, major challenges will run into a number of different problems, but tackling those problems is something at which Musk excels.

Musk also utilizes direct, personal oversight into the most major challenges. This allows him to provide support, as in servant leadership style. His personal investment in the major challenges is essential to keep the team motivated – if the boss cares enough to roll up his sleeves and get his hands dirty, then the rest of the team can derive motivation to work harder as well (Dyer & Gregersen, 2016).

So Musk supports innovation at his companies on a structural level, but also makes innovation a core part of the strategy.
At the high level, everybody involved with Tesla or SpaceX understands that innovation is critical to the company's success. But "relentless innovation" has been specifically identified as being critical to being disruptive. A company like Tesla does not rely on one or two innovations, which would of course mean that competitors catch up to them quickly, but it relies on a continuous flow of innovations to build up technological leadership that maintains the competitive advantage. Musk makes it clear that whatever the challenge is, an innovative solution is a reasonable one, and he does not rest on conventions in order to achieve stated objectives. Musk himself is therefore the face of this innovation, and the innovation is thus baked into the organizational culture (Cox, 2017).

Tesla is particular is driven by a long-range vision for the automotive industry, one that sees a shift towards electric vehicles. While at this point the cost of fossil fuels and the way our society has been built to create automobile dependence, the current structure of the fossil fuel burning car is dominant and will remain so. But the younger generation is less interested in being dependent on fossil fuels, as they recognize that they and their children and grandchildren will bear much of the cost of this pollution. But we are not going to entirely reorganize society away from cars and trucks just yet. So Tesla sees an increasing role for the electric car. Knowing that it is easier for other automobile….....

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Ann, C. (2018) Global electric car sales soar 54%, Norway tops the market share. Industry Leaders Magazine. Retrieved August 19, 2018 from https://www.industryleadersmagazine.com/global-electric-car-sales-soars-54-norway-tops-the-market-share/

Cox, L. (2017). Tesla Motors: Relentless innovation as a strategy. Disruption Hub. Retrieved August 19, 2018 from https://disruptionhub.com/tesla-motors-disruption-strategy/

Dyer, J. & Gregersen, H. (2016) Tesla\'s innovations are transforming the auto industry. Forbes. Retrieved August 19, 2018 from https://www.forbes.com/sites/innovatorsdna/2016/08/24/teslas-innovations-are-transforming-the-auto-industry/#5009d7e219f7

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