6 min read
How to Create a Moonshot Culture
Dec 5, 2021
What if your company could achieve 10X growth while your competitors achieve only 10%?
That’s what a Moonshot is: going 10X bigger or better when everyone else is pursuing incremental change.
Most companies ask questions such as, “How can we increase profits by 10%?”
Having a Moonshot Mindset means applying 10X thinking (or 1,000%) to all your efforts and challenges.
But even if you yourself understand the importance of having a Moonshot Mindset, how can you create a Moonshot culture within your organization where “crazy ideas” become real? And how do you lead that culture?
My friend Astro Teller, Alphabet’s Captain of Moonshots, is the world’s foremost expert on how to create a Moonshot culture.
Astro is a rock star and he will be teaching Abundance360 members how to build and lead a Moonshot team during the upcoming Abundance360 Summit in February.
In today’s blog, I’ll share a few of the hacks that I’ve learned from Astro to help you on your journey.
Let’s dive in!
NOT EVERYONE IN YOUR COMPANY NEEDS TO HAVE A MOONSHOT MINDSET
A key distinction is first realizing that you don’t need to have everyone in your company take part in your Moonshot(s).
Some people are naturally a better fit with the incremental growth that your company needs to stay operational.
If you’re CEO, you can think about dividing your company into the following two groups:
1. Your 10% Growth Team: This could easily be 90% of your team. Their job is to continue to grow the operation of your current business. Their goal is two deliver quality and solid 10% growth.
2. Your 10X (1,000%) Growth Team: This is the remaining 5% - 10% of your team. Their goal is 10X growth. They are focused on crazy ideas: serial failures on the road to a breakthrough. In fact, if you find them working on projects with incremental growth, you should immediately reassign them to the 10% team.
After reading the above framework, I imagine you’re already identifying which members of your team are a better fit for the 10% versus 10X.
One of the most important parts of supporting your 10X Moonshot team is where you put your people and who they report to.
SETTING UP YOUR MOONSHOT TEAM FOR SUCCESS
When Steve Jobs developed the Macintosh, his Moonshot within Apple, he identified an elite team and separated them from Apple’s main campus. He put them in a building several blocks away and flew a “pirate flag” over the building—telling others to STAY OUT!
A successful Moonshot team needs separation from the 10% team. Overtly or covertly, your 10% Team will do everything they can to shut the 10X Team down, and make them feel crazy or reckless. Physical separation is required. It's human nature—an “organizational immune reaction.”
This is just like the famous “Lockheed Skunk Works,” which set up in hiding in the 1940’s to develop the now famous U-2 and SR-71.
The second item that the Moonshot Team needs for success is the right leader. Ultimately, the Moonshot Team needs to report to the overall CEO or Founder of the company, and the CEO needs to have buy-in from his or her Board of Directors on the vision and the mission.
For example, Astro Teller, who heads the Alphabet’s Moonshot factory (“X”) reports to Sergey Brin, the Co-Founder of Google/Alphabet.
Also, the head of your Moonshot Team, like Astro, needs to be able to encourage teams to take risks, try crazy “weird” ideas, fail fast and fail forward.
A FEW “MOONSHOT HACKS” TO GET YOU STARTED
Here are two Moonshot Culture hacks I learned from Astro Teller, the world’s authority on Moonshots:
1. Train Your Team’s Thinking: This first hack helps to put your team into the Mindset of accepting and encouraging Moonshot thinking.
- Weird is Good: You give your team massive congratulations for any 10X idea—no matter how insane. Remember how fragile these ideas can be. If you show the slightest disdain for one of these ideas, it will be the last “Moonshot” idea that you get from that person.
- Quick Kills are Good: Once you instill the idea that weird is good, now you’re ready to show them that you actually value “intellectual honesty.” Work with them to explore whether the idea can work, or if there’s a fatal flaw. In most cases, you can kill the idea on the whiteboard before you even leave the room… If they are successful in figuring out why the idea won’t work, congratulate them again, and give them another hug and compliment.
Show your team that they can earn “bonus points” for: (a) raising a crazy idea, and (b) even more bonus points for then killing the idea!2. Create a “Learning List”: Learning from your mistakes is critical to creating an environment conducive to creating and achieving Moonshots.
This is where the idea of a Learning List comes in. You can use it by following four steps:
Step 1: Ask your team to create a list of action items in order of priority.
Step 2: Once your team delivers you their action list, you say, “Humor me and re-order your list so that the items at the top of your list would teach you the most in this project, giving you the biggest insights that you don’t yet have.”
Step 3: You then say, “Now go do the top two things on your Learning List.”
Step 4: Finally, when they complete those top two items, ask them to create a NEW list organized by importance. Chances are that this new list won’t look anything like the original list. That’s why we do things in “Learning Order.”
The lesson from this hack is to fall in love with the learning process—not with what you’ve built.
How do you think these Moonshot Culture hacks will work in your company?
Are you clear on which of your team members are the right fit for the 1,000% Growth Team versus the 10% Growth Team?
JOIN MY ABUNDANCE360 COMMUNITY
Would you like to learn more about how to create a Moonshot Team so that you can transform your business?
Then consider joining my year-round Abundance360 Mastermind and Executive program and come to our in-person A360 Summit February 2-4, 2022.
My mission is to help A360 members obtain mastery in four specific mindsets: an Abundance Mindset; an Exponential Mindset; a Longevity Mindset; and a Moonshot Mindset. Together we will actively select and reinforce your preferred Mindsets.