Skunk Work Patterns

A Pattern language - SkunkWorkEngineering?

Rarely are SkunkWorks projects supported or encouraged by a company. It is a very difficult thing to manage and control from an official company policies point of view. Some corporations have dabbled in supporting SkunkWorks (Hewlett-Packard kept an 'open lab and supplies' policy to encourage tinkering...), but it is still rare. 3M had something like this. Do they still?

By realizing that you have a need to develop something in the SkunkWorks it does not suggest that a corporation is bad or restrictive. Change is hard to promote, and it must sometimes evolve from a grass-roots movement.

An example: You are in a corporation of several hundred people. The corporation as a whole will not make a move to Object Oriented Technology. Maybe the group you are in are reluctant to be the first to make such a move (lack of training, inertia, contract or customer constraints, etc). This is where SkunkWorks comes into play.

-- ToddCoram

Everyone is encouraged to modify, annotate and expand upon the following list of possible SkunkWorks Patterns:

PaulMcKenney sent me these additions:

The Lockheed lawyers periodically remind people that Lockheed has a trademark on the phrase "Skunk Works". Such a reminder appears in a recent Doctor Dobbs Journal. -- DaveSmith

Insane. What are they going to do? Release a product with that name someday?

[Lockheed's tight claim to this trademark is particularly amusing when you consider that skunkworks translates as our company's management would screw this project up if they knew it existed.]

Lockheed is jealous of the name. They got SCO to rename their "Skunkware" tools CD with legal pressure.

See: BasicOperatingRulesOfLockheedsSkunkworks


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