Moonshot Thinking

“The Eagle has landed!” When we all heard those words for the first time, we had nearly realized a national goal set by President John F. Kennedy on May 25, 1961: perform a crewed lunar landing and return them safely to Earth by the end of the decade. Now THAT is a big, hairy, audacious goal! Today we use the term “moonshot” or to “shoot for the moon” to paint the picture of an ambitious, ground-breaking project without the expectation of near-term profitability and perhaps without fully investigating potential risks and benefits… I am thinking of JFK’s words “We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” Not ‘after a rigorous risk / benefit analysis’ or ‘after weighing the alternative national goals’… We went to the moon BECAUSE IT WAS HARD!

X, (previously Google X) is a ‘poorly-kept secret’ for a covert research and development facility. X was created by Google based on the premise that it’s often easier to make something 10 times better than it is to make it 10 percent better. That makes a lot of sense – when making something just 10% better you will likely rely on existing tools, and resources to build on an existing solution. An improvement on a 10X order of magnitude means you have to inspire genuine heroism, develop new resources, new technology, and create real passion for the solution. X would tell us that “moonshot thinking” starts with picking a big problem: something huge, hairy, and audacious. Then you articulate a radical solution — one that would actually solve the problem IF it existed. Finally, you need to make the case that the proposed solution is not quite as crazy as it at first seems.

Obviously there are applications for moonshot thinking in our work as supply chain professionals, just as there are applications of the same principles in our personal life. I encourage all of us to apply a moonshot approach and do great things, do crazy things, and lead boldly so deep and courageous transformation will happen in areas of our lives that we are passionate about. Having said that I would am going to lead by example.

I did some research and came up with a view of the last 16 years of my healthcare IDN supply chain leadership career. I found that I have actively participated in a little more than $1 billion in expense reduction. I was fairly conservative on that number, I looked at groups of initiatives for their first annual savings, and only a maximum of three-year NOI halo. Also since the NOI halo assumes unfavorable utilization sustainability I did not build in any cost avoidance (ex. Inflation avoidance). I was inclusive of initiatives that I was highly tactile with, all the way to large, multi-initiative portfolios that I served a sponsorship role in. Any earnest participation on my part counted.  In doing this personal reflection I realized how important applying our supply chain discipline skills and abilities are to substantially reducing and managing the over-all cost of healthcare – and how our influence accumulates naturally. WHAT IF… what if I can add to those skills an attitude of out-working and out-innovating the problems associated with the run-away cost curve we experience in our industry – CAN I DO MORE? 10X MORE? Can I summon up and inspire the kind of heroism in people to move past existing solutions, apply new technologies, and make moonshot-level transformation happen?

Here is my moonshot: I want to participate in adding to the $1B expense reduction, and help to reduce the cost of care by $10 billion in the next ten years. Here’s as far as I have got with the plan. 1: articulate the expense problem for the long-term. 2: inspire heroism.  3: develop new tools and apply new solutions as well as bringing the best and most innovative solutions from other industries and disciplines. I will do this not because it is a snap to identify good established solutions (that we all have experience instituting) but because it will be hard to develop new tools and structures to radically bend the cost curve and bring relief to those who need healing and to those that organize and fund the hands that heal them.

To start with I will invest time in crowd sourcing innovations, new tools, courageous solutions and collaborations. You will hear about it on the blog from time to time for sure, but I really – really need to hear from you. Please leave a comment on how we accelerate expense reduction enough to break out of the low-earth orbit we have been in and head for the this lunar-level objective. Hit the ‘follow’ button and become part of the collective that can make this happen.

Let’s do the 10 in 10, and as always keep filing the hands that heal.



One comment

  1. Pingback: Getting small to drive big results |

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