On the 5th of May 1961, President John F. Kennedy set the challenge of, within the decade, “putting a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth”.
Kennedy’s goal was a game-changer. At the time, NASA had only ever put one astronaut into low-earth orbit and it meant a seismic shift from “fixing and improving” planes and satellites, to creating a completely new type of vehicle that could fly around the moon, land on the surface, launch back to space, and keep three people alive in a radiation-soaked vacuum for over a week.
But they achieved it. They created the organisation, brought in the skills, focused entirely on that one, single goal, and in 1969 they made a giant leap that inspired a generation. If only running your organisation was a simple as putting a man on the moon.
It’s a strategic decision for every leader: whether to set your people to work on a swath of incremental improvements, or put everyone behind one or two big, game-changing goals. Nobody gets fired for keeping the wheels turning. But nobody gets remembered for it either.
The question is, have you actually made the choice, or are you “fixing by default”? It’s easy to focus people on fixing the current business, but here are three reasons to think much bigger:
Focus: When you set one outrageously big goal, the whole of your organisation has to work together to achieve it. Anything that isn’t directly delivering it quickly becomes obvious, and gets abandoned.
Pace: Once there’s a single, clear objective, all your decisions become faster and more straightforward. And because you have fewer, bigger projects, any major problems get seen earlier and solved more quickly.
Engagement: Everyone knows why they’re there, and how their job relates to the overall goal. People feel part of something bigger than themselves and will put in far more effort and commitment in order to see it through. For more on this read here
Bottom Line: Are you clear on the one or two big things that would make a massive difference for you? Take a fresh look at your strategy: are you trying to fix everything, or is everything aimed at shooting the moon?