580 8-2 Benchmark Study Overview
In Milestone Two, you recommended a strategic plan to the organization from the course scenario for the IoT innovation pro
580 8-2 Benchmark Study Overview
In Milestone Two, you recommended a strategic plan to the organization from the course scenario for the IoT innovation project. Now that senior management of this company has approved your recommendation, your task is to recommend ways the organization can better support innovation. Remember that your perspective is still that of a middle manager for one of the top U.S. producers of luxury and mass-market automobiles and trucks.
In this assignment, you will read a case study and write a report that compares the course scenario organization’s structure and innovation culture with those of Skunk Works. This report may help you identify ways to improve your organizational structure and culture in an effort to better support innovation.
Using the information about the company in the Organization Overview document and referring to the Skunk Works case study in this module’s resources, compare the organization from the course scenario with Skunk Works and identify differences in organizational structure and culture related to innovation. Your comparison should include the following points:
Organizational Structure : Compare the organization’s structure with that of the Skunk Works innovation team at Lockheed. Identify the points of similarity and difference and discuss their implications for an organization’s overall ability to innovate.
Shared Vision : Compare the shared vision of the organization and that of the Skunk Works innovation team. Identify the points of similarity and difference and discuss their implications for an organization’s overall ability to innovate.
Creative Climate : Compare the creative climate of the organization and that of the Skunk Works innovation team. Identify the points of similarity and difference and discuss their implications for an organization’s overall ability to innovate.
Effectiveness of Teamwork : Compare the effectiveness of teamwork in the organization and the Skunk Works innovation team. Identify the points of similarity and difference and discuss their implications for an organization’s overall ability to innovate.
Guidelines for Submission
Submit a 1- to 3-page Word document with double spacing, 12-point Times New Roman font, and one-inch margins. You are not required to use sources. However, if you choose to use sources, they should be cited in APA format. Consult the Shapiro Library APA Style Guide for more information on citations.
Other info attached 1
Skunk works case
In June 1943 the war in the air over Europe was intensifying. And one particular
threat emerged which sent shock waves around the Allied forces – the appearance
in the skies of the Messerschmidt Me262 ‘Sturmvogel’ (Stormbird), the world’s first
mass-produced jet fighter/bomber. Back in August 1939 the jet-engined Heinkel
He178 had successfully flown along the Baltic Sea and this provided the prototype
for extensive development leading to the twin-engined Me262 capable of speeds
of over 600mph, way beyond the capability of any existing Allied aircraft.
In the USA the response was an urgent request by the Air Tactical Service
Command of the Army Air Force to the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation to develop
their own plane. The task was given to a small team of engineers including
Clarence ‘Kelly’ Johnson and they began working on building an airframe able to
carry the British designed Goblin jet engine. The XP-80 project was given the go-
ahead a month later; they didn’t actually receive the full contract until October but
by then they had almost completed the design! The contract gave them six months
to deliver. In 143 days from initial request the team built and flew the plane,
christened ‘Lulu Belle’, a full month ahead of the (apparently impossible) schedule.
The P80 Shooting Star had managed to fly at over 500mph, at the time the fastest
achieved by an American plane.
They achieved this impressive creative feat by working in a very different mode to
the mainstream organization. Many of Johnson’s team had experience of similar
projects in the past within the giant corporation and had learned the value of
autonomy, clear and stretching goals and shared focused creativity. For example
back in 1938 they had built a high speed high altitude fighter plane which became
the P-38 Lightning – a strange twin-boomed design which performed extremely
well. Kelly Johnson had run this project under conditions of secrecy, walling off a
section of the factory and only allowing people directly involved to enter. The
design involved challenging many principles in aerodynamics and airframe design;
the result was the world’s fastest fighter capable of 400mph speed.
The team working on the XP80 project followed the same principles and were
located in a temporary facility using an old circus tent pitched on the far side of
the giant airfield at Burbank, California. The tent still smelt of the animals it had
once housed and one team member gave their workplace the nickname ‘Skonk
works’ named after a comic strip called ‘Lil Abner’ which featured a mysterious hut
in the forest called the Skonk Works’ where illicit liquor was brewed from skunks,
old shoes and other strange ingredients. The association of the smell in the tent
and this allusion to the comic strip led to their adopting the name ‘Skunk Works’ –
which has stayed with Lockheed as a convenient label to describe their challenging
creative projects team.
Johnson’s approach to leading the team stressed the need to preserve autonomy
particularly in relation to senior management control and interference. In part this
was the result of necessity; Lockheed were working flat out producing planes for
the war effort and so Johnson was forced to make do with whatever resources he
could squeeze out of the system. There was no space available at the Burbank
facility so the team had to work in a temporary arrangement involving an old circus
tent attached to an outbuilding. In effect Johnson was forced to build what we
would recognise today as a ‘lean’ project team, with a small staff and a lot of cross-
boundary working, bringing design and production people together early and co-
He developed a set of ‘rules’ which governed this approach – elements included
keeping teams much smaller than the normal engineering teams in the company
and preserving their separation from the rest of the organization. An important
element was the contractual right to perform the testing and prototyping – in other
words being able to experiment and fail, learning by doing. Kelly’s motto was ‘Be
quick, be quiet, be on time’ and to help achieve the latter against a very challenging
deadline for the XP80 the team had a big calendar on the wall which counted down
the days left in the project – effectively maintaining the focus on the a stretching
target. Much of his leadership consisted of creating conditions of what we would
recognise as psychological safety enabling his team to challenge and often break
rules in pursuit of what were often apparently impossible goals.
For example in 1955 the company began the first of a series of projects for the CIA
– essentially top secret challenges around very fast spy planes which could fly very
high and avoid enemy radar detection. Creating invisible aeroplanes is a pretty
stretching target, not least because it called of challenging some of the basic laws
of physics in the process! The famous U-2 spy plane was one of their early
successes and the long range SR71 Blackbird emerged from that experience,
operating for over thirty years as the worlds fastest reconnaissance plane capable
of flying at the edge of the atmosphere and at speeds of over 2000 mph. Further
work led to the team achieving the impossible – pioneering and using ‘stealth’
technology they managed to create an aeroplane practically invisible to radar!
The idea of a ‘skunk works’ team working apart from the mainstream became
popular with other organizations (although Lockheed carefully protect the trade
mark and name) and amongst others IBM used the approach in 1980 to break free
from the mainstream large company culture of a mainframe computer company to
build the highly successful PC. Apple did something similar in 1983, setting up a
team to work on a very different design to their current Lisa model. Steve Jobs is
quoted as saying at the management away-day which led to this that ‘it’s better to
be a pirate than join the Navy’ and this metaphor stuck, with the team who went
on to produce the MacBook even flying a pirate flag above their offices as a symbol
of the challenging approach they wanted to take, different from what was becoming
a mainstream culture at the company.
Similarly Motorola’s iconic and highly successful Razr design was developed in a
new laboratory that the company set up in downtown Chicago, 50 miles from its
main R&D facility in suburban Illinois.