by Clive Keyte


On May 30th, Elon Musk’s company, SpaceX successfully launched two astronauts into space with a huge degree of global interest. The commercial business already has a long line of ‘firsts’ to its name, and its successes have inspired business leaders across the world to look more closely at the way that SpaceX operates and to model its approaches for similar success.

So what have the leaders at SpaceX done so effectively in order to achieve the company’s groundbreaking achievements? Interestingly, their strategic process closely mirrors the Seven-Step Strategic Process that we use with our clients at Intrafocus. This makes sense, as the Seven-Step process that we use is based on time-served, tested and proven academic and business models that deliver real value. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at how SpaceX has taken its own seven strategic steps to fly astronauts into space.

1. SpaceX has an inspiring vision

An inspiring vision and a charismatic leader are the two initial essentials for the seven steps of strategic process success. SpaceX’s vision is “The road to making humanity multi-planetary”. Elon Musk blends charisma and passion to bring his company’s vision to life, and to take others on his journey. The vision is brief, to the point, memorable and instantly compelling.

2. The purpose is clear

To the vision, Musk adds his purpose: “You want to wake up in the morning and think the future is going to be great – and that’s what being a spacefaring civilization is all about. It’s about believing in the future and thinking that the future will be better than the past. And I can’t think of anything more exciting than going out there and being among the stars.” The purpose sets the intention and direction for the entire company and explains exactly why it exists; again, whilst creating a powerful sense of excitement, drive and direction.

3. There is a clear sense of prioritisation

Musk knows exactly what needs doing and he has a plan that has been developed by experts in his field. There is a clear recognition of the activities that are priorities, and an order to play to get them done. This strategic step is essential to drive success in all businesses, whether you are sending men to space or running an e-commerce enterprise. The collective energy and productivity of the organisation must be organised in a way that best achieves its stated objectives.

4. The vision has been translated into believable objectives

In the case of SpaceX, this has involved delivering a series of critical projects that build the necessary spacecraft components, test efficacy with cargo payload flights into space, and then progress to sending astronauts into space. The next phase is to send people – commercial passengers – to the moon, and beyond. The objectives are:

– build the propulsion system (Falcon Heavy)
– build reusable components (Falcon 9)
– send payloads into space (Dragon)
– send astronauts into space (Dragon)
– send people to the moon, Mars and beyond (Starship)

As you can see, although the projects in themselves are awesomely ambitious, their scope is clear and they are logically sequenced to build upon the successful delivery of each prior milestone.

5. Excellent communication has been used to gain buy-in

The Human Rideshare is the outcome of superb communication and engagement by SpaceX – resulting in commercial participation via the Human Rideshare scheme, which will allow passengers to buy their seat on a future flight to space. SpaceX uses talented communicators and marketers to build its brand and to communicate effectively with a wide range of stakeholders.

6. Every activity has been measured

The company measures its activities and outputs in meticulous detail. This allows it to chart progress and success, to reallocate resources as required and to adjust tasks as required in a timely fashion. By ensuring that every management decision is driven by data, decisions are made on the back of accurate, up to date information, supporting the best possible outcomes.

7. The best tools have been used, and processes have been automated

Elon Musk is known for his passion for technology; seeing it as the great enabler for breaking new ground and using it extensively at every level of his company. With SpaceX, he is able to put his knowledge and vision into practice, by ensuring that the company uses the best tools available and that it automates and measures the business as far as possible. This automation makes everything faster, more efficient and more accurate – reducing human error and minimising waste.

The Intrafocus Seven-Step Strategic Process

At Intrafocus, we help organisations of all sizes and kinds to develop effective strategies. Our seven-step process guides each business through the necessary steps; beginning with the assessment and top-level statements of vision and purpose, moving through to strategic priorities and setting strategic objectives. We move towards setting accurate and meaningful KPIs and targets, identify the projects that will drive the strategy forward, identify the right programme of communication and introduce automation to make the entire strategic process easier, faster, measurable and accurate.

Crucially, this proven seven-step strategic process works whether you work in Government, your company is planning its own space race, operating a non-profit, seeking to get a new enterprise off the ground or working to remain competitive in a rapidly changing world. Our team of experienced strategy consultants will work with you to offer a flexible programme of support according to your needs, typically beginning with a strategy workshop, which we can deliver remotely during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown, or in-house with the necessary social-distancing and safety measures in place. Please contact us to find out more.