I was always a big Star Trek fan. During my teens, the Next Generation was airing. The peculiar thing is that I am not that much into sci-fi. Most of the sci-fi books set in the near or distant future seemed implausible, impossible to happen. The structures and technologies described always had a magic component, something that was not a logical projection of the current state of things.

Enter the Star Trek Universe. Everything inside of it gave me the impression that this was a quite plausible version of our future. The replicators could generate everything on an atomic level, a voice interface to a mainframe, a warp drive in order to travel faster than the speed of light.

When some time ago Elon Musk set out to describe his plan to colonize Mars, one would initially laugh out loud at the idea of it. Space exploration seemed like a goal taken out of a sci-fiction book. But then he continued to break down his goal into a bit more manageable chunks. We have to be able to get huge payloads into orbit. We need a giant fuel tank. Radiation might be an issue. The major hurdles were described and a plausible - to the extent of my knowledge - way to overcome them had been set. Obviously, a very ambitious timeline was attached to everything, but the overall impression I had was that this is doable!

On a company level, whenever we try to align people around a common goal we always have to share some view of the future we are targeting. We can be ambitious with the picture we are painting, but we need to be careful not to sound like a bad sci-fi book. If you want buy-in from everyone it is important to not just share your ambitions. You need to break them down, recognize the difficulties, propose workarounds, a valid timeline, interim milestones.

I think especially on a leadership level we need to be more aware of the pitfalls we might face, and communicate our thoughts around them. Whenever I hear someone proposing an ambitious goal, I feel especially at unease if the problems are not addressed. I do not expect solutions but I expect a leader to be aware of them, respect them, and have an eye on them. Everyone in the room is usually immediately aware of the upsides. With your vision, you don’t need to address the disbelief of the extent of the positive outcome, but you have to remove any doubt that this positive outcome is truly feasible.