Why you should shoot for the moon

I have never entered an industry just to make small wins. At Virgin, we have always set out to shake up different fields, with unique, off-the-chart ideas that greatly benefit our customers. Any savvy entrepreneur knows that radical innovation is the best way forward. 

A great way of putting innovation into action is the concept of moonshots, which Google co-founder Larry Page has long advocated. Coining the phrase after JFK’s moon mission, Google believes huge challenges must be met with radical solutions. Moonshots aim to change how we use and think about technology, and the way we approach problems.

Hail Mary-type ventures, moonshots challenge the status quo with a healthy disregard for the impossible, while still maintaining a level of practicality. The outcome? Instead of a mere 10% gain, moonshots aim for 10 times the improvement. This type of thinking has led to many incredible inventions, and was at the forefront of our thinking on ideas ranging from Virgin Galactic to the Virgin Earth Challenge.

It was great to catch up with Megan Smith, VP at Google X, at our recent Virgin Disruptors debate in San Francisco. Leading a team dedicated to making major technological advancements, Megan is in the business of identifying and implementing once-impossible, sci-fi-like fantasies. During her time at the company, Google X has been responsible for projects like the self-driving car; wearable computing system, Google Glass; and even an artificial brain – moonshots at their best!

Alongside a wonderful group of innovators (and yours truly!) Megan took to the Disruptors panel to confront the question: “Have entrepreneurs lost the will to innovate?” Her stance was optimistic; she strongly believes that entrepreneurship is alive, well and growing. Throughout the conversation, I was pleased to hear her reiterate the importance of moonshots – stating that we need to look to radical technology to solve problems. 

Megan Smith talks about moonshots at Virgin Disruptors

Megan firmly believes that entrepreneurs and designers should always aim for the moon when innovating:

Image from Virgin.com

"Why not just go for it, right away in the beginning and then find the money to fund that. If you’ve got an amazing idea, there’s someone in the world, or groups of people in the world, who will help you. That’s why I love Virgin Disruptors, Solve for X and TEDx."

After the debate, Megan introduced me to Solve for X, an online video channel where speakers aim to inspire people to work on solutions to seemingly insurmountable problems. To encourage you to think big, I leave you with a wonderfully thought-provoking Solve for X presentation, featuring acclaimed journalist, Ira Glass. 

Do you have a moonshot? Tell us about it…


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