CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research is a light for the rest of us. I am not talking just about it’s ultimate goal of understanding the beginning of the universe, I’m talking about a way of thinking, a way of working, a way of really leading change and innovation.
The same applies to NASA, sending men and equipment into space is an extreme ambition, from which came the creation of tin foil, teflon, velcro and even smoke detectors. It is the by-products of the journey to greatness that in my view is as great as the goal itself.
CERN’s most recognised output is the world wide web as we know it today – designed to solve a localised sharing and communication issue, it became the foundation for a tool that is as ubiquitous as the phone on which it resides.
It is the journey to the perceived unachievable that things never dreamt of actually emerge.
Imagine if this thinking was applied to business, the model would entirely shift, there would be more unknowns, more risk for shareholders, but also more innovation, more life changers and more opportunity. Going from a ‘we want to increase our customer base by 20%, upsell more products, reduce churn, improve experience’ (fairly uninspiring in itself). We’d go to ‘we want to inspire every child in the western world to build their own computer’ or ‘we want to store energy so customers can buy it off the shelf direct whenever they want’. These are extreme ambitions, which means extreme journeys which result in innovative spin-offs.
Just wonder what could be achieved if the bottom line was not the sole driver of a business?