What’s Your Moonshot?

What’s Your Moonshot?

By Seth Kahan

by Seth Kahan

Have you ever experienced a moonshot?

The first moonshot I was involved in took place at the World Bank, where we shifted the focus from the money in the vault to the knowledge of the people who passed in and out of our doors every day. It was a huge stretch and not initially received with enthusiasm. But two years later, we had gone from an unfunded mandate to a $60 million/year program and broad international recognition that included being named one of the world’s Most Admired Knowledge Enterprises.

A moonshot is a large-scale challenge that has social benefit while meeting business goals and promoting stakeholder inclusion.  It is perhaps the most effective way to put you on the map, generate powerful esteem in the market and become an acknowledged player in a universally acknowledged arena.

Moonshots for a sustainable food industry

Since my time in the World Bank I have worked with a significant number of leaders on developing moonshots for their organizations. Recently I was privileged to work with Barbara Byrd Keenan, CEO of the Institute of Food Technologists on the Power of 3.

Food scientists are the people who make sure your lettuce is safe, your chocolate is fresh and the food the astronauts eat lasts and tastes good in zero gravity. They also make pop tarts, create genetically modified organisms (GMOs), determine the benefits of organic food, fortify rice (a godsend in the third world) and work tirelessly to address the needs of a growing planet headed toward 9 billion inhabitants in 2050.

The Power of 3 brought together thought leaders and industry experts to explore the nexus of food, water, and energy. It was a multidisciplinary, cross-sector scientific collaboration that included private and public sector support to tackle interrelated and global resource issues in sustainable food security. IFT assembled the best and brightest to look at the complex issues and formulate an agenda for addressing them effectively.

The camaraderie at this initial event was extraordinary. The thinking was spectacular. There is nothing like bringing together professionals to grapple with issues that are globally recognized as important. As a result of that meeting, a series of events will take place over the next year that will spark international conversation. Meanwhile, the Institute of Food Technologists steps into its place in the solution constellation for sustainable and secure food.

Finding your moonshot sweet spot

A significant part of my work involves helping leaders develop the moonshots that will propel their organizations forward. Here are three reasons moonshots are such powerful catalysts:

  1. Moonshots create alignment within and across disciplines for a common goal.
  2. Moonshots catalyze innovation throughout a field, generating tremendous value outside of the core goal.
  3. Moonshots provide a compelling rationale, a raison d’etre, going beyond simply sustaining profits. This is critical to draw in the new generations of leadership.

While the investment may be heavy, the payoff is extraordinary and measured in more than dollars. As a result of our work at the World Bank, we have stepped up results that impact literally millions of poor around the world. The Institute of Food Technologists has already sparked a series of constructive conversations around the world on sustainable food security.

Consider creating your own grand challenge, your own noble pursuit, to rally the best in your field and establish your contribution in the world while pursuing growth.

Image © Iraq’s Dinar

Never miss an insight

Get insights delivered right to your inbox

More of Our Insights & Work

Never miss an insight

Get insights delivered right to your inbox

You have successfully subscribed to our newsletter.

Too many subscribe attempts for this email address.