Is the cost of innovation in moonshot projects worth it?
It seems that the answer may very depend on what your strategy is and how you plan to get there.
This recent article on challenges in developing fully autonomous vehicles is interesting because it forces you to assess the extent to which you're willing to make the bet on the future trajectory of a particular technology trend, and how much time, energy and budget you're willing to commit to the experiment before you either: call it a day; or pivot based on what you've learned in the process.
It seems that for some of the major players in the automotive industry the cost of the moonshot vision of a fully autonomous self-driving car means that it isn't worth proceeding further. Instead, they are now looking at nearer term technology bets such as driver's assist, as a means of creating value for their customers and shareholders.
There's a valuable lesson in innovation here, irrespective of what sector you're in.
For many technology projects it's very easy to get drawn into the allure of 'solving the unsolveable' because of a perceived future promise of a technology. Often, this can be at the expense of having a clear understanding of the adjacencies to the core of your business, where incremental innovation can have real-world impact, compared to a moonshot "what if".
That's not to say a moonshot isn't worth investing in, but you need to be very clear about what value you're generating in the process and how much you're willing to spend to realize the perceived benefits for staying the course.
Otherwise, you might well find yourself on the road to nowhere.