top of page

Want to know how corporates can build moonshot factories? Clap, like and share to find out.

Saturday, 10th February 2018 Dear Astro, A huge thank you for encouraging me to post this article. That fact alone reaffirms my belief that the book ‘Why Corporates Should Build a Moonshot Factory (and how to do it)’ needs to be written and needs to be written by you. Chrs, Col Sunday, 11th February 2018 Dear Colin, Good for you for pushing on this. I’m very curious to see how people respond and who knows, maybe it will inspire me to write the book after all. Or perhaps your article will cause the book to be crowd-source-written based on my online talks! Astro

Dear Everyone Else,

To encourage Astro to put pen to paper, I’m sharing the basic outline of what his book could include. You never know, with crowd pressure, we might just get the book which is currently missing in Amazon’s business section next year.

Simply click like and/or share to indicate you’d want Astro to start writing. If you have ideas about content then comment back as well.

But first, I guess I need to introduce Astro Teller, so everyone who has not seen him in action, can decide.

Who is Astro Teller?

Astro Teller is the CEO of X, (formerly Google-X). His teams have done some incredible things over the years, but perhaps their most famous to date was the creation of the Google Car (Waymo), which carried out the first ever self-driving trip on public roads, without a steering wheel, pedals or test driver back in 2015.

If that’s not enough to encourage you to encourage him to write a book, check out his 2016 Ted talk on the benefits of celebrating failure. I’d rate this as one of the best. The fact it now has 2.4 million views suggests I’m not a minority.

Ok, cool guy, but how do we benefit from Astro writing a book on moonshots?


Don’t you want to know how to run high-performance teams that focus on designing products and services which benefit humanity and do it in a way which could be profitable as well?

Wouldn’t it also be interesting to get some insight to whether the impact of X is net positive for Alphabet?

By net positive, do we mean just profit, or are there other more powerful benefits for Alphabet?

Wouldn’t you like to know whether you can use some of X’s methodologies even in your day to day operations?

If you are in a senior leadership position and not even slightly interested let’s connect. I’d love to know why?

How does Astro benefit from writing a book on moonshots?

If the purpose of X is to make the world a radically different place, then surely one of the easiest tools Astro can use is the written word?

If just a few hundred CEO’s are inspired, from reading his book, to try even some of his ideas, the net result is likely to be an improvement in lifestyle for millions of people somewhere on the planet?

Intro to ‘How to Build a Corporate Moonshot Factory’

I was very tempted to add content to some of the proposed chapters. I decided against in the end as the aim of this article is to encourage Astro to write the book. Let’s see what decision he takes first, before using crowd-sourcing to write it for him!

DRAFT 0.1 02/11/2018

1.0 INTRODUCTION SECTION Who am I Why I Wrote ‘How to Build a Corporate Moonshot Factory’ How did I get into moonshots What are they Why every CEO should have one Summary of how the book is divided up

1.1 HOW I GOT INTO THE MOONSHOT BUSINESS What is a moonshot anyway (with examples and context to X) My journey to becoming CEO of The X-Company How successful has The X-Company been

1.2 WHY CEO’s SHOULD BUILD A MOONSHOT FACTORY The maths of a moonshots The risk of not running moonshots is greater than the cost of doing them How exponential technologies are making the maths of a moonshot more compelling How organisations benefit when every moonshot fails How it helps avoid cognitive dissonance How it helps avoid ‘black box’ thinking How it helps in identifying corporate blindspots Why thinking big and crazy helps you to deliver simpler outcomes faster


1.3 THE SINGLE BIGGEST KILLER OF MOONSHOTS Fear – “An unpleasant emotion caused by the threat of danger, pain, or harm” Why fear is a more dangerous than a lack of people, capital, technology or any other resource Why traditional orthodox business models increase levels of fear The negative impact of societal norms (it’s a bigger issue than you realise) The impact of fear on teams Fear breeds fear, exponentially It has to be socially uncomfortable to be normal


Section 1 covered why every CEO needs to do a moonshot and introduced the negative impacts of fear.

Section 2 covers the key ingredients of a successful moonshot factory with ‘fear eradication methods’ being a central theme throughout

2.1 YOU MUST HAVE A HIGHER PURPOSE THAN PROFIT Don’t build a moonshot factory when the goal is profit. You’ll be less profitable if you do. Why purposeful organisations outperform profit driven Recent case studies (e.g. Blackrock Asset Management) Moonshots, MTP’s and Purpose The X Company’s purpose My purpose (and why I wrote the book) How purpose improves decision making across teams Why purpose allows cheaper access to capital


2.2 BUILD A MOAT Why The X Compay keeps secrets [it’s not an IP issue] Tankers and wooden planks analogy Protection from the corporate antibodies explained The problem with expectation

2.3 HIRE AN ASTRO Astro’s actual job title What keeps Astro awake at night What attributes should you look for in your moonshot manager A/B testing your moonshot managers

2.4 HOW TO BE A LARRY PAGE OR SERGEY BIN Why your moonshot manager should report directly to the CEO The relationship between the CEO and the moonshot manager How CEO’s should communicate with the moonshot team How CEO’s should not interact with the moonshot team

2.4 SUCCESS MUST BE BASED ON WHATS LEARNT, NOT WHATS DELIVERED One of the longer chapters as needs to consist of examples from X and other organisations, examples from psychology, comparisons between children, adults, and organisations.

2.5 REWARD FAILURE AND SUCCESS WILL COME Defining positive fails v’s epic fails The journey to rewarding failure Impact of rewarding failure

2.5 GIVE YOUR TEAMS THE ROPE TO HANG THEMSELVES (THEN PROMOTE THEM) Self-determination Removing ego Detaching the person from the idea

2.6 I WISH PEOPLE DIDN’T LIKE BEING PROMOTED (AND HOW I DEAL WITH IT) The negative impact of promotion How do determine high performers in a team-based environment

2.7 THE TRAPPINGS OF …… FAILURE Trophies Front Desk Online content and marketing Case studies

2.8 PREMORTEMS What is a premortem? The benefits of a premortem? How to run a premortem? Reviewing a premortem after when a project is unsuccessful


Ideas that tackle huge problems, with radical solutions using breakthrough technologies, need only apply for funding. Definitions of each component Examples of ideas that passed/failed the test How group sessions are run to decide which fails/passes How often the project is retested these primary tests 2.10 PRIORITISATION METHODS – DECIDING WHICH ACTIONS TO TAKE FIRST The monkey on the pedestal analogy How different scoring mechanisms achieve different prioritisation We use these three methods to reduce error GV Design Sprints Fibonacci tables 2.11 PRIORITISATION METHODS – WHY YOU MUST KILL GOOD PROJECTSWhy good projects are the worst ones to continue with How to identify good projects How to kill good projects 2.12 REMEMBER, YOUR IDEA IS ALWAYS A BAD IDEAYour idea will always always be a bad idea Why you have to treat your idea as a bad idea, even if it is a good idea How to remain dispassionate about your idea Tips and tricks for running awesome ideation sessions 2.13 FOCUS ON THE GOAL NOT THE SOLUTIONSolving world hunger by knitting analogy Examples of where The X Company have made mistakes with solution focus Examples of technology pivots for successful projects How do you know when you are too focused on the solution 2.14 PLAYING CARDS TO GENERATE AMAZING IDEAS Book buyers will receive a free pack of The X Company innovation cards 2.15 THE HUGS AND KISSES MANAGEMENT FRAMEWORK? Summary and reinforcement of many of the statements around positive reinforcement that are covered in other chapters Adds specific research on the topic (including case studies from impacts on children, adults and organisational productivity) Summary of how The X Company provides directed positive reinforcement Series of examples of common mistakes senior leaders make, which counteracts positive reinforcement 2.16 TOOLS AND MODELS WE USE Collaboration toolkits Communication and messaging toolkits 2.17 ENVIRONMENT AND ERGONOMICS Location, layouts, seating plans, types of seating, desks, sounds and everything else we have ever thought about to try and improve engagement at The X Factory. How we approach remote working Working hours 2.18 TIPS FOR CEO’S WHO WANT TO GET STARTED So you’d like to build a moonshot factory but where do you start. If I could start over again, I’d do the following…. 2.18.1 Selling the concept to your board 2.18.2 Testing support levels 2.18.3 Find your Astro 2.18.4 tbc…. ““““““ 3.0 APPLYING MOONSHOTS CONCEPTS TO YOUR DAY TO DAY OPERATIONS SECTION Section considers whether moonshot methods can be applied by business leaders to their existing operations. The answer is yes but. Yes, they can make improvements But, the improvements will be more substantial when…… [more chapters to be added] 4.0 ENDING SECTION Conclusions Reference materials Explanation of any models described within the book Links to business networks that support moonshot thinking Link to website where case studies and communities being developed Offer to join The X Company mailing lists

If you got this far well done. Don’t forget to share, like or comment. If we get enough of those, maybe, just maybe this book might just get written!

The ideas I’ve suggested are, with the exception of a few personal additions, based on my own interpretation of content that Astro either presented at the Abundance 360 Summit or has made publicly available (e.g via his website). The opening messages should therefore not be construed to suggest an endorsement of this article, implied or otherwise.

Colin Iles is CEO of The Equinox, the premier destination in Africa for corporate leadership teams to develop strategies for an exponential world.


Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page