News that Elon Musk has opened up his Tesla patents to the automotive industry for free didn’t initially go down well with his investors. Most companies fight tooth and nail to protect their technology from competitors. Musk doesn’t buy into patch protection. In his words:
“Technology leadership is not defined by patents, which history has repeatedly shown to be small protection indeed against a determined competitor, but rather by the ability of a company to attract and motivate the world’s most talented engineers.”
But there’s also business sense in what he is saying. Tesla wants to revolutionize the automotive industry but one company can’t do it alone. There has to be greater scale in order for a robust, competitive market to develop. We need an entire ecosystem set up to support full electric vehicles. With it, costs will drop, supply and uptake will increase. To witness that evolution Tesla needs big manufacturers to get onboard.
Creative leadership is about thinking differently. Taking risks. Not being afraid to buck traditional wisdom. Real change-makers are disrupters. But they also know how to take the crowd with them. That’s what Musk wants to do. His share price took a hit initially, but not for long. He has a bigger picture in mind. And he is painting it.