Moonshots – inspire yourself and your team to achieve the extraordinary

Whether you are starting a new business or running an established business, all too often the burden of day-to-day operations can get you stuck in the weeds, and as a result your business stagnates. Many business owners struggle to escape the gravitational pull of the daily rut, despite their constant effort to focus on strategic, game changing tasks.


Over the years, I’ve used many different tools and techniques to help me stay focused on strategic goals and activities. The most successful method that I have intuitively discovered, is described in a book by my good friend and mentor, Kate Purmal and her business partner Lisa Goldman – The Moonshot Effect: Disrupting Business as Usual. Their book has been featured in Inc and Forbes magazines, and is 2017 Gold Axiom Business Book Award Winner in Leadership.


Why set moonshot goals?
Setting a difficult, hard to achieve goal has the effect of disrupting business as usual and help business leaders escape the day-to-day operational burdens. Because a moonshot is so audacious, it requires the business leader and their team to change their thinking and abandon their business as usual habits. The shared vision of the extraordinary mission unites the team and elevates its performance to unprecedented levels.
The example that Kate and Lisa cite in the Moonshot effect is President Kennedy’s 1961 challenge to the nation to put a man on the moon in 10 years. This audacious goal united more than 400,000 people in government, businesses and universities and fueled numerous scientific discoveries, inventions and innovative business practices. The US not only achieved that goal, but was propelled into a world leadership position and economic prosperity for years to come.


What is a business moonshot?
In the Moonshot Effect, Kate and Lisa define a business moonshot as follows:
  1. It’s unexpected
  2. It’s hard
  3. It’s worth it
Only an unexpected and hard goal could disrupt business as usual, and only a worthwhile mission will motivate you and your team to persevere through the difficulties and to truly achieve extraordinary results. A moonshot must transcend the usual business goals of sales and revenue, and focus on achieving something that has the potential to change your client’s lives or the world for the better.


How to set and execute moonshots
Simply choosing an extremely hard objective is not enough. You need to pick the right moonshot, create a plan to achieve it, and take the right actions to execute your moonshot.


1. Find your moonshot 
An effective way to find your moonshot is to envision the future. It helps to answer the following questions:
What will surprise people? Come up with a bold objective that is unexpected and surprising.
What will cause you to break new ground? A moonshot will require you abandon the status quo and established thinking and practices
What can you be best or first at? The challenge must inspire excellence and get people excited to pursue.


2. Map the milestones
An audacious goal without a timeline is just a dream. To achieve your moonshot, you need to break it down into manageable milestones with target dates to meet them, and set the right processes and checkpoints. Follow these steps to map your path:
  • Define the milestones in the currency of the end result. This helps you measure how close you are to your goal
  • Create frequent project checkpoints to monitor progress and align the team
  • Identify critical go/no go milestones. In case of a no go, decide whether to pivot or reset the milestone
  • Jumpstart momentum with quick wins. Quick wins motivate and excite the team
  • Leverage the magic of a compressed timeline
3. Turn intentions to words to actions
Pursuing a moonshot requires bold leadership. Being bold in this case is a matter of impact, not attitude. Bold leaders are confident, cool under pressure, act with humility and empower others.
To get results, moonshot leaders learn to formulate outcomes and clear requests towards others. They do not dictate commands, but let their teams, partners or suppliers figure out how to achieve the outcome. Once you formulate the outcome, ensure that the person(s) responsible for achieving that outcome clearly understand it and are committed to achieving it.


Can any business set and execute moonshot?
Moonshots are often thought of in the context or high tech startups or large multi-billion companies. In my career in the high tech industry at the heart of the Silicon Valley, I’ve been part of many moonshots at innovative startups and larger companies, and thinking in terms of moonshots comes quite natural at these companies.  But a business doesn’t have to be a high tech business or a billion dollar company to set and execute a moonshot. Any business from a solopreneur consultant, a hair salon, auto parts manufacturer or a hospitality business can perform a moonshot.


Contact us to find out how we can help you set and execute your own moonshot.
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