Episode 1

What Can Walmart and Xcel Energy Teach Us About Moonshots?

← Podcast Home Guests: Erik Brynjolfsson, Rebecca Henderson, Brett Carter
Hosts: Brad Langley, Devren Hobbs, Stephen Lacey (Producer)
June 6, 2019

What can we learn from Walmart, Xcel Energy and the humble electric motor?


In retrospect, big economic or technological shifts are often obvious — but they’re not always obvious as they’re unfolding. This episode will focus on how big businesses respond to external challenges in real time.


We’ll start with a glimpse at how the distributed electric motor catalyzed the second industrial revolution. Are we in the middle of an “electric-motor moment” for the modern economy?


Then, we’ll reflect on Walmart’s groundbreaking push into sustainability back in 2005. What does it tell us about how to craft a purpose-driven business case?


We’ll finish with a conversation about Xcel Energy’s goal to get 100% of its energy from zero-carbon resources by 2050. How do you push a “moonshot” goal through an executive team and a company with thousands of employees? And how will it influence other electric utilities to make bold moves?


Guests featured in this episode:

  • Erik Brynjolfsson, director of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy
  • Rebecca Henderson, economist and professor at Harvard Business School
  • Brett Carter, executive vice president and chief customer and innovation officer at Xcel Energy



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