"Unlike most of the work that we do at the Skunk Works, our spirit of innovation is no secret. We thrive on solving difficult problems, and that “can-do” attitude has led to many aerospace firsts and countless disruptive technology innovations.
Our unique organization started in 1943 when visionary Clarence “Kelly” Johnson got the green light to create an experimental engineering department to begin work on the secret XP-80 Shooting Star jet fighter. Johnson and his team designed and built the XP-80 in only 143 days, seven less than was required. It was this project that marked the birth of what would become the Skunk Works with Kelly Johnson at its helm.
What allowed Johnson to operate the Skunk Works so effectively and efficiently was his unconventional organizational approach. He broke the rules, challenging the current bureaucratic system that stifled innovation and hindered progress. His philosophy is spelled out in his "14 rules and practices."
Source: Big Daddy Lockheed