Elon Musk wants managers to be as technical as the employees they manage. Here is why he is wrong...
Updated: Sep 12, 2022
Elon Musk recently tweeted the following:
This got me thinking whether he was right. A few years back, I probably would have agreed with this. But not anymore ...
Like most engineers, I didn't have high regards for middle managers. Especially the newly minted MBA ones. I believed that a manager couldn't be generalist, and he had to have deep functional expertise to be successful on the job. Since my career so far had been focused in the self driving car industry, most of the beliefs were relevant only for the industry.
Over time, I realized managers are a different breed of professionals in their own right, at least the good managers. Good managers think in frameworks, break down problems at hand into smaller sub-components, develop a plan of action and track progress. Good managers don't need to be domain experts, but they are willing to learn just enough to be dangerous. By dangerous, I mean asking the right questions, probing for deeper understanding and know when others are BSing.
I have been with some really amazing managers who were not very technical. The world needs more of those :)