Probably the best CEO interview we’ve ever read. That was the first idea that hit us as we read “Google’s Larry Page on Why Moon Shots Matter“, by Steven Levy at Wired.
Page, the co-founder, now CEO, at Google gives a personal, insightful interview on his leadership philosophy and innovation thinking at Google. One of the defining moments, writes Levy, ‘’As an undergrad at the University of Michigan, he found inspiration in a student leadership-training program called LeaderShape, which preached “a healthy disregard for the impossible.” According to Page, this strongly shaped his thinking that led to the Google we know today.
This is exactly the kind of innovation thinking, the kind of program we have been developing and running over the last two years. Walt Disney said ‘’It’s kind of fun to do the impossible’’, and that’s the essence of our last book ‘’Dream Bigger’’. It is this philosophy we believe will be required to reinvent dying industries and launch amazing strategic transformations. It’s the leadership mindset for a new breed of leaders. For innovation leaders.
Larry Page calls this “Living by the gospel of 10x. Most companies would be happy to improve a product by 10 percent’’, not Google. Instead, Larry and his team drive for ’’Thousand-percent improvement, this requires rethinking problems entirely, exploring the edges of what’s technically possible, and having a lot more fun in the process’’. This is Google thinking big, Google’s “Moon shot Philosophy”.
In “Dream Bigger” we write:
What if you could change the future of your company?
Where would you begin?
What would be your radically ambitious dreams?
What would be your mind-numbingly awesome first steps?
Through our teaching and consulting we meet thousands of people.
Too few are truly recklessly ambitious.
Too few are truly trying to achieve the impossible.
We want to change that.
Our goal is to help you and your company Dream Bigger
– and execute successfully.
Because we fundamentally believe,
“if you can dream it, you can do it”.
So let us.
But not all executives have the courage to do just this. Too few are recklessly ambitious. Too few have moon shots. Too many are stuck in an operational mindset, trying to defend their core legacy business model, rather than inventing the future.
Says Page “I worry that something has gone seriously wrong with the way we run companies. If you read the media coverage of our company or of the technology industry in general, it’s always about the competition. … That’s why most companies decay slowly over time. They tend to do approximately what they did before, with a few minor changes… But incremental improvement is guaranteed to be obsolete over time. Especially in technology, where you know there’s going to be non-incremental change”
Page’s view is reflected in the theme of the upcoming Strategic Management conference, Inside Outliers: Driving Systemic Change states “Being positively different is the goal of strategic management” That of course requires us to think differently, act differently and the courage to break out of industry norms.
‘’Why don’t we see more people with that kind of ambition?’’ (10x), asks Levy.
Page’s reply is very, very insightful: It’s not easy coming up with moon shots. And we’re not teaching people how to identify those difficult projects. Where would I go to school to learn what kind of technological programs I should work on? You’d probably need a pretty broad technical education and some knowledge about organization and entrepreneurship. There’s no degree for that. Our system trains people in specialized ways, but not to pick the right projects to make a broad technological impact’’.
To develop organizations for the future, we believe Innovation and Innovation thinking needs to become everyone’s job. We need to fundamentally rethink training, development and education. To succeed in this paradigm, leaders need to rethink their roles, master new skills, learn new tools and understand how to drive strategic innovation. They can all begin by reading Larry Page and his leadership philosophy.
Take a look at ”Dream Bigger” here.