Loonshots - Nurture the crazy ideas by Safi Bahcall


Safi Bahcall

  Innovation, Startup

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Changing the way we interpret loonshot ideas


Loonshots is a book that aims to change the perspective of its readers and broaden the way see and interpret ideas. The author, Safi Bahcall, shares lessons learned from various real-life events in history like wartime, birth control, the first polaroid camera and space exploration to name a few. 


What are loonshots?

  • According to the author, loonshots are a "neglected project, widely dismissed, its champion written off as unhinged."
  • Loonshots are extremely risky as they are based on ideas that are conventionally considered unfeasible by experts.
  • The radar system was actually rejected by the military chiefs and bureaucrats on several accounts. If this technology was not neglected in this manner, the military could have saved several lives, ships, planes and battles. 
  • There are 2 types of loonshots: The P-type and the S-type.  
  • P-type is a breakthrough in a product and the S-type is a breakthrough in strategy.


Organization Phases:

  • The author argues that an organizations ability to recognize and nurture loonshots depends on the phase of the organization. 
  • As an organization grows, it develops a more and more complex system. Some organizations are in a phase that cannot focus on loonshots but something else.
  • Organization complexity grows with its size. The larger the organization, the more slow-moving it becomes reducing its ability to stay agile and harness the potential of loonshots.


A franchise is different from loonshots:

  • There are two phases of an idea. One is the loonshot phase which then later transitions into the franchise phase. 
  • Loonshot phase is when the actual breakthrough was discovered while the franchise phase is when these breakthroughs developed for multiple uses and different versions.
  • The author uses the latest iPhone and a new James Bond movie as examples where the products are newer versions of an existing product.

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