Georg Ell from Tesla took the stage to share his learning from working in disruptive companies.  He has a background in Microsoft, Yammer, Tesla – Country Direcor UK and Ireland joining Tesla in 2014 – launching Model S.

Tesla’s Mission – “To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable transport” Everyone in the organisation at all levels can articulate this regardless of role and seniority; they know too that their focus is to. “Keep customers deliriously happy”. They don’t advertise!

Elon Musk –  the CEO, made his first money on the internet in 1996, Zip2 – bought McClaren F1, then XCom sold to Paypal and asked – what could be do with his money – save the planet, internet, electric vehicles, space, genetics, AI. Has two companies – Tesler Motors and  SpaceX (dream to build a city on Mars). They live webcast their rocket launches!

Musk wrote a blog the –  “Not so secret, secret master plan” – setting out their plan to high volume affordable cars. Game changer.

Georg talked about Tesla’s model S Electric Car. (at the end of this, we all wanted one!)

Model S
Fastest four door car ever built
Safest car on the road
Longest range Electric Vehicle in the world
0.60 2.8 seconds (faster than falling)
Digital all wheel drive
Auto pilot tech – park itself, and steer itself on motorways. Extraordinary!
Two boots
Up to 7 seats
OTA upgrades – only manufacturer that do this (wireless delivery of upgrades).

Constant innovation –  eg trip planning range assurance, traffic awareness, safety features, 90kw batteries, single, dual motor.

“We have anything between 15-20 changes to the car a week. When a car has had many changes before it gets to end of production line. Impacts on people you hire, and how you communicate about this – it’s very different. We have set different customer expectations.

Impact on the planet – in three years model S owners will have driven over 1bn electric miles. Typical owners drive twice average UK mileage. 570,000 tonnes of CO2 prevented.

Our factory in San Francisco is extraordinary. Robots named after superheroes! Giga factory to build 500000 vehicles  by 2020. Tesla energy – Powerwall being a home battery. Incredible innovation”.

Innovation and disruption thoughts:

“”Eating our own young – changing account team targets; tried different ways – deploy the technology with partners.

Challenging conventional wisdom at Yammer – challenging traditional distribution models. Users loved it – changed how we sold. Evolved four broad buckets in which you can make a difference.

Tesla disruptive in a bunch of ways; learning:


Think about how do you manage disruption
Be bold, clear and align incentives
Not everyone can come on the journey. Attract new talent. mission. Fire the ships – to propel forwards, break down silos, get cross function.
Be very careful about tech bifurcation

New distribution models
New marketing and sales approach required. Build advocacy in to new contract models.
Redefine who your customer actually is – customer vs buyer, prescriptive approach
Customer Expectations – selling into perceived weakness, create communities.

Georg Doesn’t like the term change – what does it mean? Be careful as change leaders about language.

Why has Tesla been successful?

Strategic focus
Product – have a phenomenal product
Attracting Talent – focus on why – people buy why you do, as much as what you do
Intensity – high performance culture, no compromise, late nights – no short cuts.
Customer experience – like a diamond – flawless diamond unchanging worth.
Selling with out selling, no advertising – word of mouth, say what you think
Focus on cost
Lean teams
Set high aspirations

Q How do you interact and work with each other at Tesla
A Few layers of management; lean, high standards.

Q As you go into higher volume sector – will behaviour of people have to change?
A We provide ourselves on transparency of data. Anyone can see how we are performing. We celebrate success. Use yammer to share questions to generate conversation.

Q How do you translate mission to be meaningful for all employees?
A We have shaped our mission to mean to mean something to everyone.

Q The power comes from coal fired power stations; how does this work?
A A percentage that comes from renewables is increasing; our option is somewhat “dirty” and getting cleaner. The other thought, as we bring more products into the market, we are increasing sustainability. Emissions that aren’t CO2; 50k people die prematurely because of air quality. Another perspective.

“Imagine what London would sound and smell like if we all drove electric vehicles”

No budget – spend what you need, don’t waste anything.

A fantastic example of disruption!