Thinking Big.

Horse Racing Needs to Understand Why Moon Shots Matter.

Larry Page, co-founder and CEO of Google, lives by the principle of 10x. Most companies would be happy to improve a product by 10 percent.

Not Page.

The way he sees it, a 10 percent improvement means that you’re basically doing the same thing as everybody else. You probably won’t fail spectacularly, but you are guaranteed not to succeed wildly.

Google CEO Larry Page (

That’s why Page expects his employees to create products and services that are 10 times better than the competition. That means he isn't satisfied with discovering a couple of hidden efficiencies or tweaking code to achieve modest gains. Thousand-percent improvements require rethinking problems entirely, exploring the edges of what’s technically possible, and having a lot more fun in the process.

Horse racing desperately needs a Larry Page.

For too long now our industry has been focused on ideas and changes that barely move the needle. We have been trying to attract people with free t-shirts and gimmicky camel races for too long now, when in reality we should be aspiring to achieve massive leaps forward and colossal moon shots — just like Google did with great success.

Moon Shots — an idea or process with a goal of vastly improving the results of a business or product. Phrase based on President John F. Kennedy’s challenge to reach the moon, which was deemed almost unfathomable at the time.

For racing to succeed and grow, the industry must first get comfortable with discomfort. Blowing up the industry and starting fresh again is probably easier than making such large changes, but we are not fortunate enough to share that luxury.

Instead, setting the right goals will be key to getting the ball rolling. We should start the process by first clearly defining the business objectives the change is intended to deliver. Moon shots — if we dare attempt them — should be focused on issues like customer satisification, product development, and industry growth.

If we want racing to be ten times better than our closest competitors there are some obvious questions left to be answered first.

“How would we get there?”

“What changes would we make?”

“Who will stand in the way?”

There will be (and have been) plenty of people resistant to changes in our industry. Change is, at its core, a people process, and people are creatures of habit, hardwired to resist adopting new mind-sets, practices, and behaviors. To achieve and sustain transformational change, organizations must embed these mind-sets, practices, and behaviors at every level, and that is very hard to do — but it has never been more important.

The good news is that can be done.

The bad news? We are not doing it fast enough, and we need to take our moon shots sooner rather than later.

What most fail to realize — typically until it’s very late in the game — is that change happens to us whether we like it or not. (Tom Asacker, ‘The Business of Belief’)
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