WAY 44Foster a Skunkworks Culture: Adopting exceptional practices across an organization can provide a sense of destiny.

About the Way

In the decades since a Lockheed aircraft development team first dubbed itself as the Skonk Works in the mid‐1940s, inspired by a reference in the popular L'il Abner comic strip, the concept of a skunkworks culture has been applied to numerous world‐changing teams. The Lockheed team, led originally by Kelly Johnson, became world famous for its engineering aptitude and attitude, which the company soon trademarked as Skunk WorksTM to brand their approach.1

In modern times, skunkworks describe teams who typically operate separately from their main organization, with a zeal for imagining and building something that no one else believes can be done. They often work outside the usual rules to deliver unusual results, typically building wildly innovative solutions under crazy deadlines. Following Lockheed Martin's example, a skunkworks approach has been adopted by businesses such as Dupont, Google, Oracle, and Walmart. Steve Jobs adopted a skunkworks model to develop the Apple Macintosh computer in the 1980s.2 The Macintosh team was directly managed by Jobs and worked at a site hidden away from Apple's main R&D facilities. Once developed, the Macintosh product was soon integrated into Apple's main business. Under founder Jeff Bezos's leadership, tech and media giant Amazon also set up separate groups to accelerate areas of new growth, such as the A9 ...

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