It's Moonshot Day!

Mark Brady over at Fouroboros has proclaimed today Moonshot Day:
"What a great idea for a book

Do you know what today, 7-20-2006 is? It's Moonshot Day.

Anybody out there? Sorry for the extended absence, most of my writing will still be offline til Labor Day.

But today seems a perfect day to explain a bit of why. Mike DeWitt of Spooky Action and I are writing a dead tree book. (Yeah, it'll have all the online bells and whistles also.)

It's called Moonshots & Tsunamis (colon and descriptor TBA), from a phrase we coined sometime back as shorthand for what gets people up off their butts and into doing extraordinary things. It's about change management. It's about innovation. It's about leading and feeling and thinking. And it's about strategies and models for those things. All of which means, it's about people, and what makes them rev and tick in this here 21st Century.

The premise is simple: Nothing gets done, and stays done, without a "Moonshot" or a "Tsunami."

Here's a little bit of what to expect:

M&T is about following your gut: the instincts and rule-sets God and Darwin gave you and which you, dear reader, have augmented with your experiences and education. The Various models and scientific or managerial explanations you'll encounter in the book are more often than not, rational supports--reason to believe or trust--in the face of an uncomfortable truth for some. We are creatures of amazing potential, but our actions and achievements are the products of emotion first and foremost.

The reason Mike and I wrote this book is simple: If logic, models, sage advice, facts and rules are all it takes to be successful in business or leadership or life, why do so many fail to achieve that success? Yes, you can lead a horse to water...

We believe that the models of others, from Six Sigma to the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, are often ineffective because, well, they belong to others. They are the fruits of someone else's experience and feeling. Someone has thoughtfully reverse engineered their particular understanding of the world and its challenges and offered it to us, packaged and bullet-pointed. They were probably very successful in applying it as a personal model, one that worked spectacularly for them.

The challenge comes when we try on another's custom-tailored suit. Whether I'm "moving someone else's cheese," or, indeed, explaining a thing called Moonshots & Tsunamis, there is often one person that's left out of the "How to?" and the "Who cares?" That person is us, in all our messy, unpredictable yet hopeful glory. So guess what? The one model we will attempt to exalt and explain over all others is you.

Sounds pretty ambitious, doesn't it? It is. And we will fail miserably in doing so. But, in trying to cut through the clutter of all the business and leadership ideas that leave you out of the equation, we will hopefully have credibly suggested some things that are quite rare for this type of book:

1. Life is much simpler than we suspect.
2. People don't know what they think, or how.
3. Emotion trumps logic.
4. Nothing gets done, and stays done, without a "Moonshot" or a "Tsunami"

Arriving at the sum of these four points will require us to delve into the assertions and models of others, some of which you may find in bookstores or on movie screens today. Other ideas you'll recognize as being thousands of years old, the products of collected wisdom, history and the Bill Gates's and Edisons of ages past. And, among other things, we will see that there are no new ideas, only old ideas applied in new and unexpected places.

You, dear Human reader, are an old idea, capable of new things, but often, misunderstoood.

A Tsunami. A Moonshot.

French mathematician, Blaise Pascal, said "The heart has reason that reason does not know." But, notice, he did not say that the heart and it's particular reason was unknowable. And there's the nub of why Moonshots & Tsunamis came to be.

Think back to the 1950s. We were consumed with thoughts of a Tsunami -- "The Red Menace," Sputnik, even rumours about the nefarious plots underlying the flouridation of water were everywhere. Amazingly, we had gone from one of America's shining moments, a true team effort ending with victory in World War II, to a decade of suspicion, anxiety and accusations. Sen. Joseph McCarthy and others roiled the waters of that Tsunami mindset with the Army-McCarthy Hearings and the House Unamerican Activities Committee. Hollywood stars were blacklisted, screen hero cowboys were now enemy suspects. Elementary school children were drilled to hide under their desks and dads were digging holes in the back yard for things called bomb shelters.

What a drag.

Then we had an election. John F. Kennedy became our 39th President. And he did a thing that many of us still regard as a highlight of the American resume. He took idle hands, and anxious heads and hearts and gave them focus. He took the potential energy of that Tsunami which, up to then, had been channeled to mostly narrow and limiting ends, and he turned it into a gift. He gave us a Moonshot, literally, and metaphorically.

Perhaps he did it intuitively. Natural leaders do such things all the time without really getting bogged down in the whys and wherefores. Maybe he was just just a very canny man. Either way, it's important to note that his transformation of Tsunami into Moonshot was done without the "aid" of focus groups, market testing, statistical analysis, or the fashionable business process of your choosing. It was the thing to do. He did it. And so did we.

Let's talk about how..."
Happy Moonshot Day everyone!

posted by Mike at 8:51 AM


Blogger Unknown said...

Yay, Buzz! You did stir the tanks, right, Mike? Mike?

3:04 PM  

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