What’s your ‘moonshot’?

Envisioning a bold future and then mentally ‘walking back’ from the future, imagining what would be required to reach that vision, can literally change the world or your organization’s path forward.

In 1961, John F. Kennedy in a speech to the United States Congress challenged the country to put a man on the moon before the end of the decade. Fast forward to July 1969 and America accomplished this seemingly impossible goal. The term ‘moonshot’ was born.

Today, a ‘moonshot’ is considered an ambitious, ground breaking goal, most often associated with breakthrough technology. Google, for example, uses the term ‘moonshot’ for innovative projects like the driverless car. Using their criteria defining moonshot, it seems that it is highly relevant for the nonprofit world too:
1. Addresses a huge problem
2. Proposes a bold solution
3. Uses breakthrough thinking to achieve results
There’s no question breakthrough thinking is desperately needed now to solve many of today’s social problems.

So how does this impact you? Many organizations are focused on their current state of affairs setting short term goals and plans from year to year rather than planning for the future, taking into account the bigger picture. In reality they are simply achieving incremental growth or standing still. The potential downside as the expression goes is “Incremental thinking gets you incremental results every time.” The challenge for leaders is to STEP BACK from the daily issues and with your board look at what you could achieve based on a bold long term vision.

Wouldn’t stakeholders love a bold, imaginative goal? It’s likely that they would want to play a role in making it happen. It is inspiring to employees, volunteers, and board members to be a part of something bigger than themselves. What about donors? Are they motivated by what you have accomplished or more interested in what you aspire to achieve with their support?

Why do you think many leaders are reluctant to create a bold goal and especially share it externally? Feedback I receive is their concern for their personal or organization’s credibility if they don’t achieve the goal. Clearly there are no guarantees that it will be achieved. JFK’s goal required multiple technologies to be developed and organizations to collaborate well beyond the current thinking and culture. Aligning and focusing resources toward a common visionary goal goes a long way toward making achievement possible.

Envision what the future state would look like, the impact you want to make, and what you will have achieved and then, together with your board, determine what is needed at each step and what barriers may prevent you from moving forward. You will end up at the present day recognizing that what you need to do now is different than many of the activities on which you are currently focused.

A key point is the power of a bold, inspiring goal to challenge today’s thinking. The strategies and tactics required will be different than the path the organization is on today. You and your team will be challenged to approach the problem differently than if you are moving forward incrementally.

The goal or vision has to be credible. Good communication with stakeholders is necessary for them to be aware of what resources are required and their part in making the goal become a reality.

I’ll ask you now, what is your moonshot?

If you are struggling with this question, JBL Strategies can help you STEP BACK and create the vision of an inspirational future.

Posted in Board Leadership, Nonprofit Leadership, Strategy and tagged , , , , , .