CIO Perspective
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CIO Perspective
Moonshots and IT
Nov 19, 2013

According to Solve For <x>, moonshots live in the gray area between audacious projects and pure science fiction; instead of mere 10% gains, they aim for 10x improvements. The combination of a huge problem, a radical solution, and the breakthrough technology that might just make that solution possible is the essence of a Moonshot.moonshot definition.JPG


For-Profit Moonshots

Last month I attended Google’s Think Cloud event and learned more about Larry Page’s Moonshots and his 10x expectations.  A Wired Magazine article sums it up well: “Page expects his employees to create products and services that are 10 times better than the competition. He isn’t satisfied with discovering a couple of hidden efficiencies or tweaking code to achieve modest gains. Thousand-percent improvement requires rethinking problems entirely, exploring the edges of what’s technically possible, and having a lot more fun in the process.”


Greater Good Moonshots

Earlier this month I attended The Tech Awards(hosted by the Tech Museum of Innovation) which honors individuals, non-profit organizations and for-profit companies using technology to benefit humanity with either a new invention or an innovative use of an existing technology.


Below are some examples of 10x Moonshot-type innovative thinking applied for the common good:

IT Moonshots

So what does 10x thinking mean for IT? Since we’re operating and maintaining the integrity of all IT systems, we must ensure that company operations run smoothly is a 7x24x365 job. But how can we come up with ideas to get one thousand percent improvement when we’re so busy running day-to-day operations?


Solve for X explains: “Great Moonshot discussions require an innovative mindset--including a healthy disregard for the impossible--while still maintaining a level of practicality”.


Easier said than done, but the first step is providing a framework and an environment that permits room for those special Moonshot ideas to emerge. No matter if it is business, IT, or social welfare, the common thread here is when you rethinking problems entirely and explore the edges of what’s technically possible, you are bound to come up with a good idea, and have fun in the process.


Here are a few ideas on creating a repeatable framework to promote 10x thinking across IT:

  1. Demand big…but accept some failures.
  2. Explore how to make life better for end users; even better if you can save/make money too.
  3. Grant your team the freedom to dream big and come up with Moonshots.
  4. Automate day-to-day operations, then apply any recouped time to developing new ideas.
  5. Instill the practice of dedicating blocks of time on the calendar to work on new ideas.

I invite you to share any practical advice and/or successes you’ve had in IT with Moonshot thinking.