Agile at Tesla with Joe Justice

JANUARY 10, 2021

Joe is an amazing change agent who has helped influence organizations like Amazon, Toyota, Tesla, Apple, and leads WIKISPEED.

Joe kicks things off talking about his time at Tesla. Intensive 12 hour days that leave you soar by the end. It helps that you’ve gotten really good at machine learning and robotics control.

Agile at Tesla… what is that? Higher speed with same or better quality by driving up the value of people. Emphasis on Definition of Ready and Definition of Done work.

The enablers for such growth and change: 12 hour shifts and respect for people. Learning from each other all the time every day.

Hyper flexible teams. An environment where your job and goal can change drastically hour to hour. What makes it possible? Concept of Walk Up Simple. The goal is to be able to walk up and in less than 5 minutes completely grasp how you can contribute. Aggressive swap ability, internal business Agility. The focused fire fighting ability. To quickly focus 10,000 people on a problem within minutes.

Commonality between CEOs Joe has worked with is zero tolerance for people not working on things that are directly aligned with the strategy of the company.

Practical example of rapid agility with the Tesla giga factory. Buying the land and setting up a tent constantly analyzing (every 3 hours) is this helping us make more batteries? Once the building is enclosed they take out the tent and ask: Velocity of new battery design, new battery build and new battery test doesn’t go up, they gut the building. They failed. An outcome-based company! Did we accelerate?

The level of rockstardom had zero to do with anything whether than how did I choose to apply myself today? Tesla doesn’t care about credentials. Musk doesn’t care if you graduated high school. There is a pretty interesting business case for ignoring it entirely.

Humans are powerful things.

Dive down deeper into the teams and accountability. Each team having instantaneous hiring & firing decisions. Complete transparency into performance within and across teams. Couple this with radical transparency.

The future of humanity and government.

A Bio of Joe Justice:

I was born legally blind to a family of 6 children in 1979, in South Bend, Indiana, USA. As a child, I would touch my nose to the paper to learn to read and practice writing, and one of my first written sentences stated in careful letters that “I want to be an inventor, find the secret to all knowledge, and share it with everyone.”

My father was a PHD in nuclear physics from Notre Dame University, and my mother was one of the first women to be trained by IBM in computer programming. With the help of powerful glasses, eye therapy, and eventually 3 eye surgeries, I gained distance vision. My mother introduced me to the internet when it was a network connection only between select university computing centers. My father introduced me to lasers and medical machinery during my elementary school years.

In high school, my father required me to read the encyclopedia after finishing my homework each day. In my high school free time, I would draw and paint from life and attended figure drawing classes at the Toledo, Ohio museum of art.

I began studying martial arts in 1999 and making this the center of my life for two decades, including moving to a house on the same street as the martial arts training center, ultimately breaking concrete with one finger and receiving a 5th degree black belt and the title of Associate Master, referred to simply as Master, from Shaolin Grandmaster Sin Kwang The’ in 2018. This is where I learned to move and use my body, which previously felt clumsy and out of control due to my poor eyesight during critical developmental years.

In 2004 I married Ai Kuwabara (Japanese) in Boulder, CO, USA. I was introduced to Agile and Scrum management in 2005. In 2006 I founded WIKISPEED as a road legal automotive company, which received global press for using agile methods in hardware development and fabrication. My work with WIKISPEED created the modern field of Agile Hardware management and Justice’s Law, “The modules of the project create the structure of the company”. I was recruited to work on a Scrum team at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2008, commuting weekly by airplane for two years prior to and moving to Seattle, WA, USA with my wife in 2010. I did attend meetings directly with Bill Gates where I learned his perspective on parallel execution in management. I have two children, Senna born in Kirkland, WA, USA in 2014 and Bruce born in Shoreline, WA, USA in 2016.

In 2019 I moved to Tokyo, Japan, to open the offices of Scrum Inc. Japan which commenced operations April 1st. I formed the Agile Business Institute in 2019 and assumed the role of Chair of the Board. In 2020 I broke ground for an agile factory in Rosamond, CA, USA. In October 2020 Ai Kuwabara and I filed for divorce.

I currently lead the Agile Business Institute (Seattle, WA, USA, with operations globally) as Chair of the Board. I currently operate WIKISPEED Inc. as a nonprofit organization (Seattle, WA, USA, with operations globally).

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