Adam McNamara's Reviews > Skunk Works: A Personal Memoir of My Years at Lockheed

Skunk Works by Ben R. Rich
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it was amazing
bookshelves: history, nonfiction, biography, best-of-2017

A fantastic look at how Skunk Works works, told through stories of designing the U-2 spy plane, SR-71 Blackbird, and the F-117 stealth fighter.

Three factors led to the success of Skunk Works.

The first was how the Skunk Works defined its mission: "to develop low cost and rapid prototypes to achieve extremely difficult but specific objectives." The combination of extreme difficulty and extreme specificity is the recipe for innovation.

The second was how it operated with a high degree of autonomy and minimal bureaucracy. Skunk Works wasn't held to the same profit standards as other departments of Lockheed. Instead, it was free to experiment so long as it did so at modest expense.

Finally, Skunk Works passed the autonomy it received from Lockheed on to employees of the department. Skunk Works recruited the best engineers and technicians and encouraged them to try imaginative and unconventional approaches to problem solving, take risks, and fail if necessary.
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Reading Progress

February 22, 2014 – Shelved
February 22, 2014 – Shelved as: to-read
February 9, 2017 – Started Reading
February 9, 2017 – Shelved as: history
February 9, 2017 – Shelved as: nonfiction
February 9, 2017 – Shelved as: biography
February 13, 2017 – Finished Reading
January 2, 2019 – Shelved as: best-of-2017

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