The Secret to Moonshots? Killing Our Projects

  • Mission at Google X: Change the world. Break things. Not necessarily in that order.
  • At X, they are trying to drive dramatic change, defined as a 10x improvement on current methods which requires a radical new method of invention that goes beyond the by now trite cliché, “fail fast.”
  • In 1962, JFK told the country about a dream – it was a dream to put a person on the moon by the end of the decade – hence the name ‘moonshot’.
  • Moonshot Factory: They use the word moonshot to keep their visions big – to keep dreaming. And they use the word factory to remind themselves to have concrete plans for giving each vision its best chance to flourish.
  • Great dreams aren’t just visions, they are visions coupled to strategies for making them real.
  • Astro Teller says, “We’ve found a balance that’s working for us — allowing our unchecked optimism to fuel our visions and then harnessing enthusiastic skepticism and critical thinking as a way to breathe life, breathe reality, into those visions.”
  • Moonshot blueprint:
    1. Look for a huge problem that affects millions of people
    2. Propose a radical solution
    3. Believe that technology for such a radical solution be built.
  • When you hit a potentially project­-ending discovery, sometimes it’s possible to shift your perspective instead. Shifting your perspective is so much more powerful than being smart.
  • At X, teams work heard to make it safe to fail. Teams kill their ideas as soon as the evidence is on the table because they’re rewarded for it. They get applause from their peers. Hugs and high fives from their manager. They get promoted because of it.
  • Enthusiastic skepticism isn’t the enemy of boundless optimism, it’s optimism’s perfect partner. It unlocks the potential in every idea. It makes the seemingly impossible actually accomplishable. We can create the future that’s in our dreams.

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