Loonshots [Safi Bahcall] P75

Post Length: 3 min


In Review: Loonshots

Author: Safi Bahcall

Length: 10 hrs 14 min

Reco: meh [3/5 bananas]

"You can tell a leader by counting the number of arrows in his ass." - Judah Folkman

The Executive Vice President didn't need an introduction.  He took his seat in front of the room and started talking.  Everyone was dialed into his message.

In Feb 2018, I submitted a proposal to introduce organizational management, and utilize OKR's [Objectives and Key Results].  It would be a one-year buildout, so executives would need to trust the process.  They all agreed and physically signed off.

In March 2019, after the EVP had finished speaking, I held up the paper and reminded the group that with foresight and discipline, we can do what nobody else would ever think of trying.  The daily calls, weekly recaps, monthly off sites and quarterly forecasting all led to that moment.

Safi Bahcall approaches this topic in regards to organizations with over 150 employees.  That is the threshold where companies become more politically driven than innovation driven.  I experienced this firsthand, and thanks to experts like Verne Harnish, Brian Robertson, and John Doerr, was able to set in motion the next wave of innovation in our company.


"The whole notion of how you organize the company is fascinating.  I have found that sometimes the best kind of innovation is the company, the way you organize." - Steve Jobs


Create teams.  As Safi puts in his book, the team will set the pace.  If one person can't keep up or is overly skilled, you can put them on a new team, no problem.

Teams, says Safi, work like this:

Zero Strategy - Just work hard, keep working and never look at how you are approaching things.

Outcome Mindset / Level 1 - Stop to look at why a project succeeded or failed.

System Mindset / Level 2 - Analyze the decision-making process after a failure.  How did we arrive at this decision?  Change the decision-making process?  The team, or the incentives?

Using McKinsey Group, Safi breaks down their process on team building.  Local offices can't promote, instead, someone comes in to assess the candidate before making the decision.  This can take up to three months and is expensive for the company.  But think of how much they save by getting the right fit in the organization, and then making that decision to promote.  No politics, just organization fitness.


"Leaders who order their employees to be more innovative without first investing in organizational fitness are like casual joggers who order their bodies to run a marathon.  It won't happen." - Bahcall on McKinsey Group


You are a level 2, always looking at process after failure.  Where you and I fail is reverting back to managing down and /or one to one.  We lose leverage, promote problems, and the mission gets too far out of reach.

Foster creativity.  It may feel like another arrow in your ass, but that's just how we are measured homie g money.


Love, Ando

Ando McCall