- Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters
- Elon Musk asks himself the same six questions before making any big decision.
- He uses the process as his own version of the scientific method.
The inventor and engineer Elon Musk has successfully started four billion-dollar companies: PayPal, Solar City, SpaceX, and Tesla. And to launch them – and to answer any complex question – he uses the same approach, he told Neil Strauss of Rolling Stone.
It’s “the scientific method,” Musk said. “It’s really helpful for figuring out the tricky things.”
He describes his process this way, according to Strauss:
- “Ask a question.”
- “Gather as much evidence as possible about it. ”
- “Develop axioms based on the evidence, and try to assign a probability of truth to each one.”
- “Draw a conclusion based on cogency in order to determine: Are these axioms correct, are they relevant, do they necessarily lead to this conclusion, and with what probability? ”
- “Attempt to disprove the conclusion. Seek refutation from others to further help break your conclusion.”
- “If nobody can invalidate your conclusion, then you’re probably right, but you’re not certainly right.”
Musk uses these six questions anytime he needs to come up with an idea, solve a problem, or decide whether to start a business. He values this kind of evidence-based decision-making, and he criticized people who can’t separate fact from feeling.
Most people employ “It’s true because I said it’s true,” he told Strauss. “It’s very unscientific.”
Type 1 decisions are “are consequential and irreversible or nearly irreversible – one-way doors – and these decisions must be made methodically,” Bezos wrote.
Type 2 decisions are “changeable, reversible – they’re two-way doors,” and they “can and should be made quickly by high judgment individuals or small groups.”