Moonshots: How to Structure Your Team and Organizational Goals to Achieve the Unattainable

This is part 1 of a 2-part series on moon shots; how to structure your team and organization to achieve the unattainable. Over the next two blogs we will examine what it takes to set audacious goals, the steps needed to break them down into actionable metrics, and how you can execute them to indeed achieve the unattainable. 

These are the same foundational principals the Warrior Angels Foundation is using in our charge to provide a treatment for Veterans with Traumatic Brain Injuries that is scientifically shown to improve their symptoms and quality of life, but is not currently offered within the Department of Defense or the Veterans Administration.  So what exactly is a moon shot?

What is a moon shot?

A moon shot is an idea that 99.99% of the population views as near impossible to achieve. X-Prize founder Peter Diamandis has said, “The day before something is truly a breakthrough, it’s a crazy idea.”

On September 12th, 1962 President John F. Kennedy, while addressing the nation at Rice University on the national space efforts, presented what was thought to be a crazy idea at the time.  In his now famous “we choose to go to the moon” speech, President Kennedy challenged the nation to be the first to put a man on the moon and return home safely.  This “moon shot idea” like all before and like all since was initially met with resistance and disbelief.  After all, we had just put a man in orbit and now we were going to the moon? With the odds against us and the Soviets well ahead in the space race, the odds were surely insurmountable. So why even take this moon shot?

Why take a moon shot if the odds are against you?

Why take flight? Why put a man on the moon? Why change the way we assess and treat traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress? WHY?

We all have the pioneering spirit within us.  Some more so than other but rest assured it is there.  If you are not actively seeking adventure and self-improvement on the grandest scale then more than likely you are living it out through books, television, and movies but you don’t have to, you have the greatness already within you.

President Kennedy answered the question of why the following way, “But why, some say, the Moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask, why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas?

We choose to go to the Moon! ...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; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win…”

In the same spirit, The Warrior Angels Foundation (WAF) believes in doing the right thing, not for promise of reward or fear of punishment, but because it’s the right thing to do.

We do it because we choose to do it. Not because it’s easy but because it’s hard, because no one else is doing it. Missions of high importance must be pursued no matter the probability of success, and without fear of failure. Our mission is of high importance. We will succeed, but only if we define why it is we do what we do.

Start with why.

You can call it purpose, meaning, a reason for existing. When you break each of those down it all goes back to one word, why. The why is your organizations foundational belief. In order to achieve success, an organization’s leadership must know and embody it’s why.

For the same reasons, we as a nation chose to go to the moon.  We needed a unifying achievement to instill belief in ourselves as a country and cement America’s status as the world's space superiority.

In the same manner, your individual or organizational why must be defined and answered.  If it is not, then your mission and purpose will fail to resonate with your peers, your employee’s, your customers, and most importantly it will fail to resonate with you.

The Warrior Angels Foundation (WAF) why is stated in our vision statement.

WAF Vision:

To inspire and empower bold action

To challenge the status quo

To offer superior alternatives

To Free the Medically Oppressed Until There Are None

So now you have your moonshot, you have your purpose and vision.  You have defined and answered the difficult question of why, why it is you choose to take this important and life changing moon shot.  Now all you have to do is carry it out right? That’s the easy part, right?  Only if the How is accompanied by bold actions, collectively understood by yourself and throughout the entire organization.  Then they will be able to be carried out.

How? 

The actions taken to ensure an organization’s “why,” is known as the “how.” These are the steps taken to achieve a moon shot.

Kennedy’s bold actions that answered the how were not limited to but include some of the following, the expansion of NASA to parallels never before seen.  Convincing the tax payers and congress to fund the program with $5.4 Billion dollars (the equivalent of over $40 Billion in todays dollars).  It also involved the development and creation of new technologies and materials by Americas best and brightest scientist and engineers. And most importantly it called to unite, challenge, and inspire a generation around one common goal.

Similarly, WAF has defined our bold actions as the following;

WAF's Bold Actions:

  1. Provide a personalized treatment protocol, which pinpoints — and, more importantly, treats — the underlying condition for U.S. Military Service Members and Veterans who have sustained a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) while in the line of duty.

  2. Sponsor a network of trained physicians that facilitate and correctly implement personalized assessment and treatment protocols to U.S. Military Service Members and Veterans who have sustained a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) while in the line of duty.

  3. Employ disruptive technology and Unconventional Warfare tactics to improve quality of life for Veterans with Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) and Post Traumatic Stress (PTS), while working to secure our endorsed evaluation and treatment process within the Department of Defense and the Veterans Administration — or until new technology dematerializes, demonetizes, and democratizes the current health care system.

So what will your bold actions be?  How will you define your how to answer your why to achieve your moon shot?  The answer is to start with the end in mind.

This has been part 1 of a 2-part series on moon shots; how to structure your team and organization to achieve the unattainable. Join us next time as we discuss how to start with the end in mind to achieve your own personal and organizational moon shots.

You can find out more about Warrior Angels foundation at www.waftbi.org. We are challenging the status quo, we are providing an answer that no one else is and we are doing it all off charitable contributions. Please consider a financial contribution to our moon shot of providing life changing treatment for our Veterans.

Until next time,

Andrew & Adam Marr
Co-Founders
Warrior Angels Foundation (a 501c3 run by combat veterans and run solely on donations like yours)