SpaceX employees decry Elon Musk's 'embarrassing' behavior: report

I doubt that those employees had an opportunity to confront Musk personally, or that it would change his behavior if they had.

This is probably more of a publicity stunt to make their opinions get as much public attention as Musk's tweets get.

I have to wonder if it was prompted by real embarrassment on their parts or by their own activism on the subjects where they disagree with Musk's positions.
They did not need to confront him face to face, an email would do. You send an email to the person you want to confront. It is private, no one else will see it, the recipient will not be embarassed. Going public is essentially "going around" someone. You never, ever "go around" someone without telling them first, giving them an opportunity to fix the problem. If you have a problem with them you go straight to them. If they refuse to deal with you then you tell them "I am going to schedule a meeting (or share an email) with your boss, it will happen at this certain time and you are welcome to be there. Going around someone is the kiss of death in any organization, regardless of the merits of your case.

Yes, you are correct in that their primary motivation is publicity, trying to force the issue, perhaps gain some notoriety. These are selfish motivations, unrelated to the issue at hand. Again, solid basis for termination. There are certain ways you do things in large corporations and their methods are not them.
Bill, I really don't know the specifics of this situation in SpaceX, and I don't think you do, either.

Speaking from actual personal experience, individuals at the top of power structures almost always have subordinates who are the actual recipients of e-mails to those individuals, just as they have "secretaries" (if not armed guards) at their office doors to make sure nobody gets in "without an appointment".

Having personally been on the low-power end of some real public safety issues that were being handled improperly, I have some experience dealing with the "underlings" who block contacts. In my case, I did warn them that I would not stay silent and gave them a year to "come clean", which they did not do. So, I sent an e-mail to the top people, and did not make it "classified" so it was not withheld from the public. That was all that would kick the issue into the open - once public, it could no longer be ignored. I was not in a situation where I could easily be fired for doing that, but I was (illegally and counter-to-established-procedures) harassed in ways that were hard to trace back to whoever the instigators were.

So, I am not about to condemn others who use publicity to confront corporate suppression. Yes, the issues are much different, but the problem of corporate communication suppression is still relevant.
If you have made a good faith effort to contact each person, in order, up the chain of command then you can go public. If a subordinate is refusing to forward the message then you go around them as I stated earlier. Once you get to Musk and he refuses to acknowledge your message then you go to the other 7 members of the Board of Directors. It would behoove you to send your messages via US Mail "Return receipt requested". Once that avenue has shown to be a roadblock you then go public.

I once got a swollen can of food product from a mega corporation. I sent an email to their "customer complaint" website suggesting it might be botulism and got a cheery message of thanks with a coupon for a replacement can. I did not consider that an appropriate response.
I went to their public website and found no phone number and no address to send complaints, the email site was the only way to contact them and it had failed me.
What I did was to go to the SEC and find out their Board of Directors. They have a General Counsel. I went to the Bar Association for that state and got the "address of record" of the General Counsel. I wrote a concise, factual, non-emotional, non threatening, polite letter to that person. About three days later the phone rang in my shop and a guy asked for me by name. He said "I am the Public Affairs person on the Board of Directors of "Mega Corp". Our General Counsel has asked me to call you. She said 'This guy knows what he is talking about and needs to be heard'. How might I assist you?" I asked for an address to send the offending can, we worked together over the next few months and the issue got resolved. Turns out it was improper storage on my part. Had I gone public with this issue, I would have ended up with egg on my face.
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This is getting pretty far off subject, which was already pretty far off the theme of "Space", so I am not going to get into it much farther.

But, I do feel it is important to point out that your contact through the company ending up with lawyers and "public relations" people gives me some concerns about the veracity of the eventual determination that the swollen can was caused by improper storage on your part. Personally, I would have contacted my local health department or the FDA.

As for getting "egg on my face" if it turns out to be my own fault, all I can do is be honest about what I know. In the case of your swollen can, I am thinking that would have been "Here is a swollen can and I understand that can be caused by contamination with botulism bacteria - I am forwarding it to your lab for testing." An objective lab can then test it to determine if botulism or some other suspected pathogen is actually in there. If not, then at least you did not make any accusations that went beyond your actual knowledge, so no need to have "egg on your face". Maybe you did have insufficient knowledge about storage, and then you learned something. But, what if it had been botulism, and you just assumed it was your fault - until you read in the local paper about some neighbors dying from botulism poisoning by the same product from the same company? "When you see something - say something" isn't useful if you only say it to people who have a reason to suppress the information.
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You might be making some good points, sometimes an independent agency is required in an analysis. But my point was that there is a way to get to the top of a company despite their efforts to block you. Same goes for Musk and Tesla, you want to get ahold of him badly enough there is a way to do it. You exhaust all avenues before you go public, and when you do go public you specify in great detail the efforts you made to keep it confidential. In the case of the fired employees they did not do that. They went public without specifying the lengths to which they went in trying to deal with it through channels. My personal ruling: Dismissed fairly.
I'm not really taking a side on whether the SpaceX employees should have been fired.

Certainly, in a non-unionized company, publicly criticizing the owner is putting your job at risk.

If the real point was that Musk's behavior is actually causing problems for the company, I can be more sympathetic than if it was actually a politically motivated statement because they disagree with Musk's political opinions on things outside the company.

And, when I look at what Musk has said about Russia and Russian oligarchs, and what he is doing to help Ukraine in its battle with Russia, I also wonder how much of these multiple, diverse subject, negative media stories about Musk are resulting from the Russian propaganda machine inserting stuff into our conversations to cause trouble here.


"Science begets knowledge, opinion ignorance.
"And, when I look at what Musk has said about Russia and Russian oligarchs, and what he is doing to help Ukraine in its battle with Russia, I also wonder how much of these multiple, diverse subject, negative media stories about Musk are resulting from the Russian propaganda machine . . . . . . "

That is an interesting point that I had not considered.

Cat :)

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