SpaceX didn't go hiring a bunch of ULA engineers to build the Falcon series of rockets; there's a quote floating around that it was like 5% came from existing rocket related enterprises. It turns out that rocket science and engineering is just science and engineering; anyone can do it.
And yeah, if you're an engineer and working for a company that employs 4 guys who keep a chair warm, 2 guys who create make work for everyone else, 1 guy who is a drooling moron, and you, and you're consequently spending 10 engineers worth of time to do 1 engineers worth of work, and you don't notice or care that its the case, you're fscking mediocre.
Good engineers pay attention, collect data, do metrics; if you don't do that, you're mediocre.
You work for ULA/ESA-Ariane/SLS, and you don't see the writing on the wall? You're mediocre.
In fact, you're the definition of mediocre.
Christ, its not even close; the majors have been in this business for almost 70 YEARS. I mean, how in the fsck do you have to charge 10X what your competitor charges when they just started doing, heavy industry, like this century, ferchissakes? I mean, ULA/ESA should be able to FART faster better cheaper rockets than SpaceX. The fact that they can't, and aren't even trying, tells you all you need to know not just about the companies/alliances themselves, but ALSO the people who work there.
And I didn't say anything about CalTech/JPL; we are talking about SpaceX competitors here. JPL might do theory, design, and testing, but I don't think they've built an EELV class launch vehicle lately. In any case there is no evidence they are mediocre since nobody else has built a planetary rover, deployed it, and done equivalent science with it for better than 1/10th the cost.