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Skunk Works : How to Disrupt Yourself

Today I want to talk about the importance of disruption in the business world. The rate of change is increasing, and if you don’t disrupt yourself, someone else will. So, how exactly do you do it?

One powerful tool for disrupting yourself is the “Skunk Works” philosophy, originally developed by Kelly Johnson at Lockheed in 1943. Johnson and his team designed and delivered America’s first jet fighter in just 143 days, revolutionizing the way innovation is approached. This philosophy is still used today by some of the most innovative companies, such as X: Alphabet’s Moonshot Factory (formerly Google X).

“Going skunk” means creating an environment that empowers a small group of people to design a new idea, away from the routine organizational procedures. It’s about tackling Herculean challenges, known as moonshots, that are 10X bigger than what your competitors are pursuing. These moonshots lead to the best outcomes, outperforming small and medium goals.

In order to form a moonshot organization or team, it’s important to isolate your skunk works team from the rest of the company. Most companies suffer from “organizational inertia,” which is the resistance to significant change. By isolating your skunk works team, you stimulate risk-taking and encourage the generation of new ideas, acting as a counterforce to organizational inertia.

Another important aspect of disruption is having a bias for action, experimentation, and rapid iteration. You must be willing to take big risks and not be afraid to fail, because it’s part of the journey. This approach allows for rapid iteration and failing forward, ultimately leading to entrepreneurial success.

Finally, intrinsic rewards are key to high performance. Gaining autonomy, mastery, and purpose is motivation enough to make us work to our highest potential.

In conclusion, disrupting yourself and your industry is more important now than ever. By embracing the “Skunk Works” philosophy and fostering a culture of innovation and rapid iteration, you can set yourself up for success in today’s rapidly changing world.

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