What if Elon Musk built an orthopedic device company?

Not likely, but it’s a worthwhile thought experiment. This thought experiment highlights why most orthopedic companies are not remarkable, but just “ordinary”.

We can take an educated guess of how Elon would approach a new orthopedic startup. So far, Elon’s approach and strategy has been transparent in Telsa, SpaceX, StarLink, Solar City, and Neuralink.

So what would Elon do?


Elon would set out to create a 10 times better product or service.

He might ask:

How can we 10X the surgical experience?
How can we 10X the patient’s outcome?

Most ortho companies are making improvements that are 0.1 X better (or 10% better). These are incremental changes that do not transform orthopedic medicine.

The “dirty little secret” about thriving for 10X better product or service is that it only takes 2-3X the effort, not 10 X the effort.

1st Principles Approach

Elon would take a first principles approach to the problem or goal. In other words, he would totally forget what orthopedic products are on the market right now.

Elon historically has taken a 3-step approach to any new challenge.

  • Identify the problem first. Do not look for a solution until you have fully understood your problems.
  • Break the problem down to the core fundamentals.
  • Welcome transformational ideas. Unlike commonplace ideas and industry patterns, first principles thinking offers you a new manner to approach a problem.

Cheerleader with a Hammer

Elon would rule the company with extreme expertise and a hammer. He would ruthlessly pursue the vision.

There are no committee decisions in an Elon company, no decisions by process, no checking in with stakeholders, no groupthink. The organization would be very flat.

Elon’s fast and decisive decision making creates speed and clarity.

Fight Bloat

Elon would fight bloat in the company. No meetings. No unnecessary processes. Streamlining. Efficiency. Simplify. Focus. Remove barriers. “The best part is no part.”