Safi Bahcall, Author of Loonshots

Published on15 NOV 2019

Safi Bahcall discusses his book, Loonshots: How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas That Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries, and how the principles of physics can be applied to human behavior in organizations to spark innovation.

On defining “Loonshots”: “Everybody knows what a moonshot is. It's a big, exciting destination – a goal. But if you look at the big ideas that changed the course of science, business or history, they rarely arrive with blaring trumpets dazzling everybody with their brilliance. They're surprisingly fragile. They get dismissed and rejected for years or decades and their champions are often written off as crazy. Since there wasn't a good word in the English language for that, I made one up.”

On sparking innovation: “The really big breakthroughs fail many times before they succeed and that's often why they are big breakthroughs – because a lot of people have tried and had been unable to do it. So, the moral of that story is ‘loonshots’ are surprisingly fragile. You do need to quarantine them. And, of course, the failure point in large organizations is that transfer when you finally get them out.”

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