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…
You can generate a million for your company, guaranteed, this year.
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.