So You Are ‘Headed for the Moon’…Have You Invested In The Right People?


There are many ways to ‘get to the moon’, or at least that’s what many companies would have their employees and other stakeholders believe.

Our best and brightest organisations are very adept at describing how a focus on culture and growth will propel the organisation towards better results than before. Unfortunately, it isn’t always easy to determine which human capital activities should be a true priority and which will have the most relevant business impact at a single point in time…if ever.

On May 25, 1961, President John F. Kennedy announced before a special joint session of Congress the dramatic and ambitious goal of sending an American safely to the Moon before the end of the decade. 

After President Kennedy made his pledge Nasa drew up a list of all the challenges and steps to make that goal possible.

Most obvious was the gap between the tiny Mercury capsule and the type of craft required to meet the goal of men walking on the Moon…it seemed laughably insurmountable. There was so much that had to be figured out, with another of the biggest challenges being space navigation and how to rendezvous.

Many companies have their own “we are going to the moon” mission moment. The key is what they do next.

With the right planning an emerging business or one undergoing great change might be in pre-flight mode. With some progress and experience they might feel like they are gaining altitude and eventually approach optimal cruising speed.

A strong focus on culture and a growth mentality feels like it will propel the company towards better results than before.

However, it isn’t always easy to determine which human capital activities should be a true priority and which will have the most relevant business impact at a single point in time…if ever.

Building, launching and flying a rocket to the Moon also took tremendous organisation. At the heart of Apollo was mission control with a single Flight Director in charge to keep everything on track.

Finally, going to the Moon required a significant investment with the final cost reported to be close to $25 billion dollars, rather than the $7 billion dollars in the original budget.

A ‘Flight Plan for Human Capital’ Investment

A typical human resource plan allocates investment based on perceived best outcomes for the business or simply the way it was always done.

As NASA discovered, there is a natural and logical progression for building organisational capability.

If you are heading to the Moon, will your current investment decisions in Human Capital deliver a Propeller Driven, Jet Powered or Rocket Boost impact on the overall effectiveness of the organisation?

Organizations feel like they understand the benefit they will receive, however may not understand the true “return on investment” for expenditure for key activities such as Remuneration & Benefits or the creation of a Talent Pipeline.

In many organisations there may also be a large investment in learning and development, however if the Workforce Foundations are not well laid, this could be a case of ‘spending good money after bad’.

A “Future Flight Plan” Focus Will Get You There

It wasn’t a simple path NASA took from 1961. It required a sophisticated “Future Flight Plan” along with the correct investment decisions around human capital along the way.

Will Your Organisation Make It to the Moon?

Are your workforce foundations and talent in place so that further investment will create the appropriate culture and strategy?

Is your ‘Mission Control’ able to determine your ‘Human Capital Flight Path’?

Thankfully for Kennedy his goal was achieved on July 20, 1969, when Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong stepped off the Lunar Module’s ladder and onto the Moon’s surface.

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