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During the week of the Tesla Model 3 Launch in Fremont, CA, Tesla invited Scrum Inc. to host a Scrum Inc Scrum Master and Scrum Inc Product Owner course at the factory. On Wednesday, we had a tour at the production site in Elon Musk's personal golf cart. An awesome time was had by all!


Jeff Sutherland taking a Tesla Roadster for a test driveIn 2009, I was in Palo Alto doing Scrum Training and I decided to test drive a Tesla Roadster with my business partner and fellow trainer Gabrielle Benefield. Right after the drive, I put in an order for a brand new red Roadster. It is the best product I've ever invested in. Check out comments in Quora.

What's Happening at Tesla?

After buying the Roadster, Elon gave early Roadster enthusiasts "Friends and Family" stock at $17. The stock has appreciated to over $350 in 2017. I had enough stock to pay for my Roadster and it made all future Tesla cars essentially free. While it is too late for everyone to buy a Roadster and get in on the IPO it is not too late to buy a Model 3 that "drives like a Porsche and costs like a Prius". It is even cheaper today to put solar on your roof. The payback in my state is about four years (electricity is then free for 20 years at least and it increases the value of your house) and that doesn't count the cost savings on never having to buy another gallon of gasoline.

After three versions of the Model S, and my order for the Model 3, I was eager to see what Tesla was doing with Scrum. There were many people from Tesla in the classes, some passionate advocates for more and better Scrum. Tesla could certainly use more Scrum. They are now entering what Elon calls "production hell", trying to fill 500,000 orders for the new Model 3 as fast as possible.

Currently, everyone is working hard and under stress. With more and better Scrum they could turn "production hell" into "production nirvana." At another auto manufacturer we worked with, a team of 200 that could not deliver anything was cut to a team of 20. That team shipped a critical production system in just a few sprints. Tesla needs that!

You Need "True Scrum" not "California Agile"

California Agile vs. Aggressive Scrum
To deliver with 10% of the staff, you have to do what the Japanese call "True Scrum", the Scrum of the grandfathers (Takeuchi and Nonaka) and fathers of Scrum. There is far too much "California Agile" in Silicon Valley, where developers do whatever they want and so you get "whenever" delivery.

At Tesla, we taught the Scrum Inc. pattern based approach to Scrum. In this approach, there are at least 11 ways to double your velocity in your next sprint. This way of implementing Scrum resonated with the class participants, some of whom were from a rocket factory not far from the Tesla plant. After we finished the class at Tesla, they asked me to present key lessons learned to their Scrum teams at the factory.

The Rocket Factory

We visited the stealth mode rocket factory after the Model 3 launch at Tesla. The CEO is running the company 100% Scrum for all departments (departments are teams or sets of teams). They are committed to building and launching rockets in 10% of the time of SpaceX. We talked to their whole development team about the key lessons we teach in our Scrum Inc. Scrum Master course on how to deliver "Twice the Work in Half the Time."

Silicon Valley Agile Leadership Network

As a bonus to the Tesla courses, I attended a user group meeting for the Silicon Valley Agile Leadership Network at Computer Associates in Santa Clara. There we talked about how to scale Scrum without breaking Scrum. 50% of the audience said they were doing Scrum in a company where the management was still using Waterfall. Agile was viewed as a running wheel you put in the development area to make the developers run faster. All the same command and control Waterfall reports were required. A scaling framework was often chosen to keep the managers safe from Agile and protect the hierarchical organization, rather than refactoring the organization, incentive plans, and job descriptions to achieve higher performance. I talked about how the best companies do Scrum where the management becomes Agile and directly works on and supports Scrum teams.

If you're interested in the presentation, you can download a PDF of the slides: Scrum at Scale Keynote SVALN 18 Jul 2017

Tesla Roadster R80 Upgrade

Side note: I recently upgraded my Tesla Roadster to an 80KWH battery so it now goes over 300 miles per charge just like my Tesla S P100D.

Tesla Roadster R80 upgrade