If We Can Put a Man on the Moon3sm2
If We Can Put a Man on the Moon4sm

BY WILLIAM D. EGGERS AND JOHN O'LEARY

Start the Journey

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The Seven Deadly Traps

The potential for failure lurks at every phase along the journey to success. In researching hundreds of large undertakings, we identified seven recurring pitfalls, traps that can bedevil any significant change effort in the public sector.

Unfortunately, these traps do not announce themselves with trumpets blaring. The most dangerous aspects of the journey come from the hidden snares embedded in the terrain of the public sector. More information on the book and the traps can be found at www.deloitte.com/manonthemoon.

• The Tolstoy Trap: Seeing only the possibilities we want to see, often while staying blind to what is really in front of us. Most often occurs at the idea phase.

• Design-Free Design: Designing policies for passage through the legislature, not for implementation. Most often occurs at the design phase.

• The Stargate Trap: The risk that the idea never makes it through the legislature or it becomes so distorted on the way through that it will never achieve the intended results. Occurs only at the Stargate phase and is particularly challenging in the public sector.

• The Overconfidence Trap: Creating unrealistic budgets and timelines. Can occur anywhere but most often arises during the implementation phase.

• The Sisyphus Trap: Failing to comprehend the special challenges of the public sector terrain, and how human factors can make or break an effort. Can arise anywhere, but problems most commonly arise at the results phase.

• The Complacency Trap: Failing to recognize that a program needs change. Occurs in the reevaluation phase.

• The Silo Trap: Fumbling handoffs throughout the execution of a project. Arises throughout the journey from idea to results.

"If We Can Put a Man on the Moon is the classic affirmation that good ideas are not enough... This book offers enormous insight into answering those extraordinary difficult 'how' questions."

- Admiral James M. Loy, former Coast Guard Commandant and former Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security

If We Can Put a Man on the Moon4sm

About the Book

If We Can Put a Man on the Moon

"Eggers and O'Leary may have created a new genre -- the Government Policy Thriller."

- Chip and Dan Heath,  co-authors of Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die

The American people are frustrated with their government — dismayed by a series of high-profile failures (Iraq, Katrina, the financial meltdown). Yet our nation has a proud history of great achievements: victory in World War II, our national highway system, welfare reform, the moon landing.

The truth is, we need more successes like these to reclaim government's legacy of competence. In the forthcoming book If We Can Put a Man on the Moon, William Eggers and John O'Leary explain how to do it. The key? Understand — and avoid — the common pitfalls that trip up public-sector leaders during the journey from idea to results.

At a time of unprecedented challenges, this book, with its abundant examples and hands-on advice, is the essential guide to making our government work better. A must-read for every public official and anyone interested in their country’s future; this book is for anyone who cares about the future of democracy.

About the Map

Why do some big initiatives fail and some succeed?

To answer that question we studied more than 75 major public initiatives —both great successes and monumental failures to look for patterns.

By breaking these initiatives down into their discrete processes, we found that while they all were very different, they all followed a predictable path, a series of steps, we call “The Journey to Success”

There are lots of ways an initiative can end in disaster, but to have a happy ending, the following must occur:

We used this map to help guide our inquiry and discovered that simply visualizing the execution process as a continuous flow made it much easier to identify the root causes of a particular project’s success or failure.

• You must start with a good idea.

• You need an implementable design.

• The design must win approval, as
  when a bill becomes a law, signaling
  a moment of democratic commitment
  that we call the Stargate.

• There must be competent implementation.

• The initiative must generate its
  desired results.

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