Discussion: December 15, 2009 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter

A reader asks:

I am a mission-driven person (and a turn-around expert) who shares a fair number of beliefs from the Lockheed Martin Skunk Works style of business and project management. Even today, this is still an “out of the box” style of management and is not exactly listed in job postings as a qualification. Companies don’t seem to express it to recruiters or discuss it on their websites. I rarely find this style among people or businesses. But when I team up with them it is true business magic. How do I find these kinds of companies and people?

Whew! Why do out-of-the-box thinkers keep showing up here? Hmmm… We’re all weird on Ask The Headhunter and no one knows what to do with us. One thing left to do: Take over.

How can this reader find other innovators who crave autonomy and avoid bureaucracy… And hopefully a company that tolerates (and hires) them?

Help us break the bureaucracy. Please give us some insight!


  1. Nick, you already gave the answer — “Take over!”

    Even if he can not work for himself, he can work on becoming a leading skunk in his field, attracting other skunks to himself.

  2. Why not go to Lockheed Martin?

  3. Wouldn’t there be various project management associations that could work here? “Agile Project Leadership Network” would be an example of an association that maybe he could start a Skunkworks club. Another thought would be to see if one can find a “Fortunate 500” company that manages by values.

  4. I’m there! Where the hell do I sign up?

  5. I think many of your readers Nick can relate to this line, “I rarely find this style among people or businesses. But when I team up with them it is true business magic.” THAT IS a beautiful thing. I’ve been there myself.

  6. @Maurreen: Score 10 points ;-)

    @JB King: Score 50 points! ;-) ;-)

    Keep ’em coming!

  7. @Everyone
    Aren’t job “postings” (read that HR & outsourcers) the problem?
    First, I agree with the “take-over” idea … Yet, I think what you need to “take-over” is your life — the orgs of others. [Yes, I have been in the awesome zone where everything clicks …]
    Second, stay away from the vertical markets: they have a status quo mantra set to 1922.
    Lastly, Start nick’s networking program. Set your targets. Talk to people. NEVER EAT ALONE.

    Endpoint, are we going to talk OR are we going to do it? I am working on an employee-powered, 21c firm. I haven’t entered the market, watching for recovery signs …

    @Everyone Let’s put something together …

  8. Producing ‘work outside the box’ is actually hard to do, and I in my experience, really unrealistic to say that you can do this everywhere you go.

    I have produced two software projects without any bugs after one year in production. We ‘thought outside the box’ in that we, the development team, got to know the system as well as the user. We ‘took over’ in that any one of us felt we could ask the questions we needed of the users. We didn’t wait for management to ask for us. And we as a team cared about this business problem. So we produced very good software.

    However, some cultures won’t appreciate what it means to make sure the development staff knows its business. Also it’s hard when changing jobs to take the entire team with you.

    And yes, it takes a team to do these things. I see this post from one person. I can stand in admiration of his accomplishments because I’ve done similar things. But I know I am not going to be able to do that in every job.

    However, it is a very powerful thing to say in an interview that you have done this. And if the boss is attuned to this, he will hire.