Moon Shots

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Moon Shots

Management’s Grand Challenges: the 25 Moon Shots

Source: Moon Shots for Management, by Gary Hamel
Harvard Business Review, February 2009 issue

Copyright © 2009 by Harvard Business Publishing

This is the list of 25 moon shots developed by Gary Hamel and his band of management revolutionaries at Half Moon Bay. More detail on each is provided in the Harvard Business Review article.

I hope that over time, we will be able to address each of the 25 challenges separately in different Groups (see the existing example: M21: Imagination). Members joining these Groups could then add and discuss examples of organisations that have successfully tackled the challenge, as well as principles, conceptual frameworks, and methods that you might want to experiment with, and links to consulting firms and other organisations that can provide assistance, etc, etc...

And if you want to get a Group going to address a particular moon shot yourself, please just go ahead! (go to the Groups tab and select '+ Add a Group').

Jon Ingham, Moon Shots host.

Challenges 1 to 10

There was general agreement among the Half Moon Bay renegades that these are the most critical.

1. Ensure that the work of management serves a higher purpose

Management, both in theory and practice, must orient itself to the achievement of noble, socially significant goals.

2. Fully embed the ideas of community and citizenship in management systems

There’s a need for processes and practices that reflect the interdependence of all stakeholder groups.

3. Reconstruct management’s philosophical foundations

To build organizations that are more than merely efficient, we will need to draw lessons from such fields as biology, political science, and theology.

4. Eliminate the pathologies of formal hierarchy

There are advantages to natural hierarchies, where power flows up from the bottom and leaders emerge instead of being appointed.

5. Reduce fear and increase trust

Mistrust and fear are toxic to innovation and engagement and must be wrung out of tomorrow’s management systems.

6. Reinvent the means of control

To transcend the discipline-versus-freedom trade-off, control systems will have to encourage control from within rather than constraints from without.

7. Redefine the work of leadership

The notion of the leader as a heroic decision maker is untenable. Leaders must be recast as social-systems architects who enable innovation and collaboration.

8. Expand and exploit diversity

We must create a management system that values diversity, disagreement, and divergence as much as conformance, consensus, and cohesion.

9. Reinvent strategy making as an emergent process

In a turbulent world, strategy making must reflect the biological principles of variety, selection, and retention.

10. De-structure and disaggregate the organization

To become more adaptable and innovative, large entities must be disaggregated into smaller, more malleable units.

Challenges 11 to 25

11. Dramatically reduce the pull of the past

Existing management systems often mindlessly reinforce the status quo. In the future, they must facilitate innovation and change.

12. Share the work of setting direction

To engender commitment, the responsibility for goal setting must be distributed through a process in which share of voice is a function of insight, not power.

13. Develop holistic performance measures

Existing performance metrics must be recast, since they give inadequate attention to the critical human capabilities that drive success in the creative economy.

14. Stretch executive time frames and perspectives

We need to discover alternatives to compensation and reward systems that encourage managers to sacrifice long-term goals for short-term gains.

15. Create a democracy of information

Companies need information systems that equip every employee to act in the interests of the entire enterprise.

16. Empower the renegades and disarm the reactionaries

Management systems must give more power to employees whose emotional equity is invested in the future rather than the past.

17. Expand the scope of employee autonomy

Management systems must be redesigned to facilitate grassroots initiatives and local experimentation.

18. Create internal markets for ideas, talent, and resources

Markets are better than hierarchies at allocating resources, and companies’ resource allocation processes need to reflect this fact.

19. Depoliticize decision-making

Decision processes must be free of positional biases and should exploit the collective wisdom of the entire organization and beyond.

20. Better optimize trade-offs

Management systems tend to force either-or choices. What’s needed are hybrid systems that subtly optimize key trade-offs.

21. Further unleash human imagination

Much is known about what engenders human creativity. This knowledge must be better applied in the design of management systems.

Join the group: MS21: Imagination

22. Enable communities of passion

To maximize employee engagement, management systems must facilitate the formation of self-defining communities of passion.

23. Retool management for an open world

Value-creating networks often transcend the firm’s boundaries and can render traditional power-based management tools ineffective. New management tools are needed for building and shaping complex ecosystems.

24. Humanize the language and practice of business

Tomorrow’s management systems must give as much credence to such timeless human ideals as beauty, justice, and community as they do to the traditional goals of efficiency, advantage, and profit.

25. Retrain managerial minds

Managers’ deductive and analytical skills must be complemented by conceptual and systems-thinking skills.

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Comment by Ralf Lippold on October 21, 2009 at 6:57
Moon Shot #25 has hit my nerve.

As a systems thinker I am quite positive
that this is one of the leverage points.

If management gets retrained on how to
act in the organizational context, this will
open up a whole new set of positive re-
actions by others.

Wondering how many managers are here
in the group and what their opinion would
be on my thoughts.
Comment by David Hawthorne on September 29, 2009 at 21:03
I'm a fan of Moon Shot #3. Business managemange and educators would learn from the application of Social Performance Measurements used in some microfinance development programs, they's see a practical application, developed by practitioners, for what I would call, "Sustainable Performance Management." The lack of regard for sustainable performance beyond the quarterly timeframe or the span of one's tenure is reprehensible and destructive of capital, people, and planet. Whether we like it or not, we need to have numbers that make sense.
Comment by Shereen Qutob-Cabral on August 10, 2009 at 18:39
Moon shot #17 jumps out at me, how better the world of work would be if we employee "empowerment" meant more than merely having engagement surveys that no one ever really looks at.

There is a lot of untapped potential within the grass root levels of an organization and only until that populous is given the autonomy to make the right decisions that serve the best interest of the business and it's people without being gridlocked between lack of direction at the very top and hesitance at the middle mass can we begin to make any real impact. Anything short of that is merely a tick box exercise for "show and tell" where nothing of substance resides.
Comment by Lucy Garrick on June 15, 2009 at 16:15
Moon shot 6 sparks my interest. I have been studying and learning more about the impact of social media on virtual collaboration. I'm committed to this idea which allows people to share and learn across boundaries which are normally invisible to us. Those might be between individuals, groups or organizations. Based on a shared passion for a topic or type of work. The implications are enormous for the closed structure and systems of many organizations. In certain aspects of organizations it turns things upside down.

This shift is already taking place and it seems the impact is largely invisible to most organizations. They are limited by their mental models/ experience as public users of social media. I see opportunities and enormous potential here. I'm still evolving my own thinking on this and experimenting with pilot projects. I'll be interested to hear what your organizations and clients are learning about virtual collaboration. How are you using it, if at all. What challenges do you face? Challenges related to the moon shots as well as use of virtual collaboration.
Comment by Michael Evans on May 3, 2009 at 23:52
As an educator, I find moonshot 25 as the most critical challenge. I supervise middle and high school administrators in a time when many are analytical but struggle with a systems thinking approach.
Comment by Norbert Trompeter on March 31, 2009 at 19:15
My favorite moonshot is 25 and i would like to expand its meaning: also mind-set (including graves levels) not only mind-skills.
Comment by Mike Zeidler on March 16, 2009 at 6:26
I also like plain english. I think people need to make a couple of really simple changes to the way they think. If people saw themselves as both 'I' and 'we', and they learned the art of appreciation, then we're most of the way there. From 'I' to 'I' AND 'We', means understanding our interconnections (The African word 'Ubuntu' reflects this culture, and means 'I am, because you are, because we are'). Appreciation means learning from what works rather than what doesn't. The changes really are simple - it's only because they affect our whole system of understanding and learning, that they might seem challenging.
Comment by Steve Curry on March 8, 2009 at 17:48
'Management, both in theory and practice, must orient itself to the achievement of noble, socially significant goals.' Agreed, but legally, a company Board must ensure profit is maximised. Further the reward for maintaining existence and maximising profit is proportional to the level of power someone in the organisation holds. It turns out that most people didn't have the appetite for the destruction of human, company and order that Marxism required so, how do we convert say, British American Tobacco, from a socially destructive force into the above?
Comment by Ria Baeck on February 25, 2009 at 17:28
Isn't it all about: let's be humans together, put the best of our intelligences and wisdom together and let's co-create from there?

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