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Moonshot Thinking: Definition & Examples

Moonshot Thinking is a way for us to think beyond our comfort zone and challenge ourselves to find new solutions. It’s about thinking “outside of the box”. It’s about looking at ideas from different angles and never giving up on an idea, no matter how many times it is rejected.

The word “moonshot” is a metaphor derived from the Apollo program with which NASA landed on the moon. The original moon landing was about going to the extreme and achieving an impossible goal.

The OKR method makes use of moonshot thinking, as do other methods for goal setting.

In this blog post, we will discuss how managers or OKR Product Owners can use moonshot thinking to support their teams.

The three main principles of moonshot thinking

  • The first principle of moonshot thinking is the need to find a problem worth solving
  • The second principle is to find out what is preventing us from achieving our goal
  • And finally, we must be prepared to take risks and not let fears hold us back

Moonshot Thinking

We need leaders who think big and create this kind of change for companies. What are you willing to do to improve the company? How far are you willing to go?

Moonshot thinking is not about how much money or time you need, but about what goals would cause exponential growth in the company.

A real moonshot has no limits and knows no failure. What is stopping us from realizing these kinds of ideas? Perhaps it is fear or doubt in ourselves or in others. We have to believe in ourselves and others if we want something other than what we have.

Examples of moonshot thinking

Probably the best-known example of moonshot thinking comes from US President John F. Kennedy – and the name is derived from this:

“We choose to go to the Moon”

This was the announcement on May 25, 1961 that a man would land on the moon at the end of this century and then return safely to Earth.

The German-born rocket engineer Wernher von Braun wrote at the time: “To achieve this, the rockets would have to be ten times [10x!] more powerful.” Hence the term “10x thinking”.

Many visionaries, such as Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg, and companies also use moonshot thinking. The best-known companies include:

  • Google
  • SpaceX
  • Tesla motors
  • Apple
  • Facebook

Here are some examples of questions that can be a basis for moonshots:

  • Elon Musk: What if we were able to colonize Mars and establish life there?
  • What if we could develop a pill that would cure cancer?
  • What if we could develop a machine that would allow us to live forever?
  • What if we could develop an artificial intelligence that was indistinguishable from humans?
  • How can I make my blog post more interesting for readers who are not interested in this topic?

And here are the matching moonshots:

  • Elon Musk: Being able to colonize Mars and establish life there.
  • Developing a pill that cures cancer.
  • Develop a machine that enables us to live forever.
  • Develop an artificial intelligence that is indistinguishable from humans.
  • Make my blog post more interesting for readers who are not interested in this topic.

Moonshot thinking does not always have to be associated with growth. For example, the HR department can aim to reduce onboarding costs by a factor of 10. For example, through automated onboarding with a video course.

Lecture: 10-fold growth, thanks to OKR! – The secret behind Moonshot Thinking and 10x Thinking

Ambitious goals without excessive demands and demotivation.

Lecture on 9.05.2022 with bestselling author, management consultant and trainer Erno Marius Obogeanu-Hempel


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Conclusion: Moonshot Thinking for more success in the company

With so many examples of moonshot thinking and its success, it is no wonder that more and more companies are using this innovative method to achieve their goals. We hope you found these three principles helpful in understanding what can be achieved with a little Moonshot Thinking!

If you want to use the innovation-promoting mindset of Moonshot Thinking for your company, we offer a Moonshot / 10x workshop. If you have already implemented the OKR method, all the better – or we will be happy to support you in this too.

The moonshot/10x workshop is a half-day or one-day hands-on workshop in which you get to know the principles of moonshot thinking and experience how you can apply them in your company – to your specific issues.