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Google’s Captain of Moonshots


“Let’s make the world a radically better place.”

Astro Teller, entrepreneur, scientist and ‘Captain of Moonshots’ for Google [x] is thinking big. And he wants you to do the same – he believes “YOU can be the next Google.”

How? By visiting their website – www.solveforx.com, where “People can set their minds to magical, seemingly impossible ideas. And then through science and technology, bring them to reality”. This, for the Google [x] team, is a ‘moonshot’.

googlexdiagramSo here’s what you’ll need for the venture:

1. A Huge Problem
2. A Radical Solution
3. A Breakthrough Technology

And that’s it. Fantastic – or fantastical?

Something you are more than likely telling yourself is ‘look, a lovely idea, but I’m not going to change the world am I! The simple fact is, I am not Google.’ Something Astro hears a lot. But he has a theory:

“Small companies say: ‘we don’t have the resources. This is for the big companies with money’; they say: ‘not for us, too much risk; we buy innovation once it’s happened. Academics say: ‘We get paid to write about it; we don’t build it!’ The government: ‘when we’re cash positive, then we can talk moonshots!’”

This is not about money, intelligence, or who has the biggest office. It’s about ‘bravery and creativity’. A philosophy Google [x] stands by through all of their work.

The Google [x] Ethos:

RULE No.1: Be Ambitious.

According to Teller, “When you go slow, you inevitably think the boring way. When you shoot higher then your comfort zone, you think differently. What looked like a difficult problem, is actually not quite as difficult as you thought”.

You can change the perspective and ambition of your team by setting higher challenges. If you wish to better your margins by 10%, then you may need to do some tweaking. If you want to better your margins 10 fold. Then you have to start over. Be brave. Be creative.

RULE No.2: Celebrate the Process.

‘Don’t punish people when it doesn’t work out’.

Teller hates how we “celebrate the winners”. Instead, we should applaud “people who are running the right process. Who have the right ethos.” If a member of your team tried twenty ways to move a mountain and none of them worked. It wouldn’t matter. You have to remember, they tried to move a mountain!

Tell your team that you value the attempt. Smart attempts, good risks; not whether they succeeded or not.

This leads directly to –

Rule No.3: Fail.

Teller knows directly, that Google fail “nearly 50% of the time”. And why? Because they are pushing boundaries and not afraid of mistakes.

“Managers are all different. They will always have their own innate styles. We can watch them, learn from them, and have them talk to each other. So for new projects, they know what’s working and what bumps they hit along the road.”

The outcome: “We can aim for newer, bigger, more exciting mistakes. If I make you feel stupid because you’ve tried something new and it didn’t work out, you will never try again. But if we can create a culture where failure is possible! Then you will try something new every week.”

Whether you are an individual, small business or major corporation; all of the above applies to you. Google [x] has offered an opportunity to us all to think bigger then we currently are. Can YOU be the next Google? Can YOU make the world a radically better place? Astro Teller is an inspiring leader with ideas and ideals truly worth adopting. Give it a try!

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