Our rules

Skunk Works® Rules

  1. The Skunk Works leader must be delegated practically complete control of their program in all aspects. They should report to a C-Suite Officer, Division President, Board member or higher.
  2. Strong but small project offices must be provided both by the government and industry.
  3. The number of people having any connection with the project must be restricted in an almost vicious manner. Use a limited number of good people (10% to 25% compared to the so-called normal systems).
  4. A very simple drawing and drawing release system with great flexibility for making changes must be provided.
  5. There must be a minimum number of reports required, but important work must be recorded thoroughly.
  6. There must be a monthly cost review covering not only what has been spent and committed, but also projected costs to the conclusion of the program. Don’t have the books 90 days late, and don’t surprise the customer with sudden overruns.
  7. The contractor must be delegated and must assume more than normal responsibility to get good vendor bids for subcontract on the project. Commercial bid procedures are very often better than government ones.
  8. The inspection system as currently used by the Skunk Works, which has been approved by more than one agency, meets the intent of existing government requirements and should be used on new projects. Push more basic inspection responsibility back to subcontractors and vendors. Don’t duplicate so much inspection.
  9. The contractor must be delegated the authority to test their final product in production. They can and must test it in the initial stages. If they don’t, they rapidly lose their competency to design other vehicles.
  10. The specifications applying to the hardware must be agreed to well in advance of contracting. The Skunk Works practice of having a specification section stating clearly which important government specification items will not knowingly be complied with and reasons therefore is highly recommended.
  11. Funding a program must be timely so that the contractor doesn’t have to keep running to the bank to support government projects.
  12. There must be mutual trust between the government project organisation and the contractor with very close cooperation and liaison on a day-to-day basis. This cuts down misunderstanding and correspondence to an absolute minimum.
  13. Access by outsiders to the project and its personnel must be strictly controlled by appropriate security measures.
  14. Because only a few people will be used in engineering and most other areas, ways must be provided to reward good performance by pay not based on the number of personnel supervised.
  15. Starve before doing business with the damned Navy. They don’t know what the hell they want and will drive you up a wall before they break either your heart or a more exposed part of your anatomy.
  16. No reports longer than 20 pages or meetings with more than 15 people.
  17. If it looks ugly, it will fly the same.