What does it take to get innovation from hope to reality?  Think about all the times that you’ve whiteboarded a concept…and it never got off the board!  What does it actually take to make it happen?  According to The Ergonomics of Innovation, a great new McKinsey article, it takes both lofty aspirations and concrete goals:

"Motivating people to action requires a blend of lofty aspirations (to
be attained in the distant future) and concrete goals (to be
accomplished in the near term). The virtues of aligning short- and
long-term goals can be seen in the race to the moon. President John F.
Kennedy’s long-term aspiration was to place an astronaut there by 1970.
It required the employees and contractors of the National Aeronautics
and Space Administration (NASA) to focus on specific
subgoals—developing powerful engines, perfecting space walks, devising
techniques and equipment for docking spacecraft—that were necessary
stepping-stones. As a group of NASA engineers and project managers told
one of us, “If you weren’t working on the next tiny step to get a man
on the moon, you knew you were doing the wrong thing.”

I don’t know about you, but I love the certainty that "if you weren’t working on the next tiny step to get a man to the moon, you knew you were doing the wrong thing."  The dream…the aspiration…is great.  But if it’s not concrete at the team member level…you end up only dreaming about the moon.

Want to check out the whole article?  You can read it right here.

Innovation: Lofty Aspirations and Concrete Goals