Google [x] famously declares that they only care about “moonshots”. Astro Teller, Google [x]’ “Captain of Moonshots”, keeps talking about how they focus on “10x, not 10% improvements”. And many, many (corporate) innovation labs across the world copy Google’s approach.
There is method to the madness — and it’s highly relevant for startups:
People (and this includes entrepreneurs) typically try to optimize existing systems. They work on making a process or product better. The problem with making things just better (as opposed to rethinking them) is that you’re looking at marginal improvements — the 10% improvement. The problem is that when you look at marginal enhancements you constrain yourself pretty severely. You stay in the proverbial box. This is compounded by the fact that nowadays most systems are already highly optimized — getting to a 10% gain is hard. Really, really hard.
On the other hand when you allow yourself to think about making things exponentially better — 10x versus 10% — you force yourself to scrap all existing assumptions, truly understand the problem and solve for it from the ground up. I many ways it’s easier to think in 10x change instead of 10% improvements. Maybe not initially as it forces you to leave the well trodden path; but once you left familiar ground and allow yourself to be creative and imaginative, it becomes so much easier.
Added bonus: 10x solutions are vastly superior, they capture the imagination of your audience and allow you to build new markets.
What does it take to make your solution 10x better?