Every company needs a captain of moonshots

By David Carnes | May 2018


Here’s a thought experiment from a speech by Astro Teller of X (Alphabet / Google). It really got me thinking. By the way, his official title is Captain of Moonshots—I might have to change my title now too.

Imagine you have two choices…

  1. You can generate a million for your company, guaranteed, this year.
  2. You can generate a billion for your company, one chance in a hundred, this year.

Most would pick B because the return is 1000 times more. The math makes sense given the effort for the huge potential reward.

Now here’s the question. Would your boss want you to pick A or B?

His main point is you need to have both A and B efforts in your organization. The guaranteed day in / day out and the big Moonshot efforts.

Incremental progress will never achieve greatness—10% better each year is a smartness contest. There will always be smarter people pushing to make incremental progress.

If you can change from an incremental change contest to a perspective shift contest and think of ways to make a 100X or 1000X impact—that ups your chances to change the world significantly. You will probably fail a few times along the way, but the effort for a 10X, 100X or greater return will be about the same as working toward that 10% incremental progress, the .1X return—think about it.

Every company needs a Captain of Moonshots.

Here’s the Astro Teller speech from the Tim Ferris blog.

Topics: Digital, Business