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Moonshots Are Key To Innovation

Updated: Jan 20, 2022

Most companies fail because they fail to see their own potential

Companies fail not because they do not innovate but because they fail to see the pace at which innovation is capable of moving. Humans are trained to think linearly, but technology advances exponentially.

A Moonshot is an idea that attempts to utilize that exponential curve that may seem impossible, but that is usually due to our inability to think in exponentials. For example, if you took 30 exponential steps, how far do you think you will go?

Technology moves exponentially and humans suck at exponential thinking

Did you guess that you will have walked enough to walk around the earth 16 times? That is the power of exponential growth. Imagine if every three steps your company took was an exponential one. What would your growth rate be?

To give you a real-world example, Kodak invented the first digital .1 megapixel camera. They created a technology that camera companies did not explore before. However, their downfall was assuming that it would take just as long to get to .2 megapixels.

That assumption led them to fall behind in the very technology they produced. They didn't see the exponential power in their own innovation.

Moonshots require thinking differently in order to approach a problem

Had Kodak approached the problem utilizing a Moonshot, their situation could be different. Imagine if, instead of simply creating a digital camera, their focus was on creating a digital camera that surpasses the quality of any film camera on the market today. The Moonshot may have drastically changed how they approached the second version of the camera.

Moonshots are about smashing the paradigm of the existing industry trends. These ideas come from a radically different way of thinking amongst people within your industry. If you tell a competitor your moonshot idea and they believe it is a good idea, you are not thinking big enough.

Moonshots seem far off because they require thinking exponentially

Elon Musk founded his three big companies off of two massive what-if questions. What if humans were interplanetary species? What if we had a completely renewable economy?

What is a massive what-if question that looms in front of you in your industry?

Naveen Jain started his company Viome from his understanding that pharmaceutical companies profit when sick. That is a bad incentive structure for true innovation in human health and places all of the best minds in treatment instead of prevention.

If you feel stuck or stagnant, ask yourself a different question

Naveen focused on asking a drastically different what-if question than everyone in the pharmaceutical industry. What if the entire pharmaceutical sector got paid to keep a person healthy?

The bigger the problem you define, the bigger the possibility for the result.

Can technology solve a problem you believe is impossible?

Today all of the technology research is published and, everyone in the world has access to it. Many companies neglect how they can utilize these discoveries in their processes.

Examining these reports myself, the technology to solve big existential problems exists now, not someday. Right now. It takes one entrepreneur who is tired of capital not being allocated towards the correct technologies to start the process of finding the solution.

What significant problem exists that you believe you have the answer to?

If not you, then who.

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