3 Lessons from Skunk Works

In their book BOLD, Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler outline three takeaways from Kelly Johnson’s rules that will help you change the game:


The Skunk Works team was isolated from the rest of the Lockheed bureaucracy.  This stimulated risk-taking and countered the tendency of organizations not to disrupt existing markets and processes.

Goal Setting

Diamandis and Kotler quote University of Tornto psychologist Gary Latham and University of Maryland psychologist Edwin Locke by saying that setting goals increases motivation and enhances performance.  And big goals significantly outperform small goals, medium-sized goals, and vague goals.  This was certainly true of Skunk Works.

Rapid Iteration

Fail early, fail often, fail forward is an axiom you may have heard.   Skunk Works was focused on trying new ideas, quickly, failing sooner rather than later, and thus eliminating risk.  It worked.

How can you take a small group at your organization to accomplish something game changing?

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