Black Swan Farming

Google, on moonshots

From a BBC interview with Astro Teller, “Capitain of Moonshots” at Google[x]:

You must reward people for failing, he says. If not, they won’t take risks and make breakthroughs. If you don’t reward failure, people will hang on to a doomed idea for fear of the consequences. That wastes time and saps an organisation’s spirit.

Finding new transformational ideas is like sending out a team of scouts to explore uncharted terrain for new mountains to climb, he says.

“If you shame them when they come back, if you tell them that they’ve failed you because they didn’t find a mountain, no matter how diligently they looked for or how cleverly they looked for it, those scouts will quit your company.”

The last part of this quote is true not just for the moonshots that Google is aiming for. It’s true of all product development.