How a Skunk Works Approach Can Help You Balance ‘Business as Usual’ and Innovation
The first department in our company was research and development (R&D), for which we hired two engineers that boasted a balance of technical knowledge and work experience.
Why those individuals? They could come up with ideas, build them out and, thanks to their business experience, validate them and make sure they were actually doable. Our goal has always been to create innovative products, and the company became their playground.
Businesses often fall into the trap of innovating solely within their existing products and services (witness the ongoing iPhone “newest model” obsession). There’s nothing wrong with that, but any company that wants to remain innovative can’t just iterate forever. Which is why, unbeknownst to many, Apple is also working on a mixed reality headset, augmented reality glasses, and reportedly a car.
A dynamic we applied at my company was akin to that of Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Development Programs, aka Skunk Works (responsible for some of the most iconic aircraft designs ever conceived, such as the SR-71 Blackbird, F-117 Nighthawk and F-35 Lightning II). Thanks to a similar structure, we’re able to balance our day-to-day business as usual (BAU) with innovation: R&D regularly explores new ideas, but nothing gets passed on until it is fully validated. We focus on concrete projects only, to avoid distractions.
Here are a few lessons learned along our way.
Read the full article here.