A skunkworks project is a project developed by a small and loosely structured group of people who research and develop a project primarily for the sake of radical innovation.

It is an especially enriched environment that is intended to help a small group of individuals design a new idea by escaping routine organizational procedures. The research and development (R&D) workers in a skunkworks are usually specially selected, given special resources, and work on a crash basis to create an innovation.

What if there is no managerial approval, and one individual embarks on a (legal) project during their own time, in secret (since there is no formal approval) with the intent of bringing about radical innovation?

Is there a name for such a project?

Some successful examples would be interesting.

  • Volunteering? Since you are presumably doing your real job at the same time. (Or a problem if it is secret because it isn't allowed) – Jeanne Boyarsky Nov 28 '14 at 0:26
  • en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_operation would come to mind for an idea. – JB King Nov 28 '14 at 1:02
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    -1 This is a very loosely defined list question. – user9158 Nov 28 '14 at 2:45
  • @Lego: How about you ignore the list part if you hate lists, and instead let people answer the main question, Is there a name for such a project? – Dan Dascalescu Nov 28 '14 at 2:52
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    A personal skunkworks project? – pi31415 Nov 28 '14 at 2:54

A skunkworks project implies a team taken out of formal structures, but still with some form of oversight within an organisation.

If you are doing things on your own time, that would be called a "personal project".

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  • Makes sense. "Personal project" though suggests something unrelated to the main business, and not sanctioned either as was Google's now defunct 20% time. – Dan Dascalescu Nov 28 '14 at 3:09
  • Are you officially getting time off for this project, or are you doing it in your own time? – user9158 Nov 28 '14 at 3:10
  • Own time, as mentioned. – Dan Dascalescu Nov 28 '14 at 3:58
  • Well, then it is just a "personal project". It might be beneficial to the company, it might not. They have no vested interest if it fails, maybe not even if it works. – user9158 Nov 28 '14 at 3:59
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    Look at it like this, if I do unpaid work on my own time that might help the Army, I don't get to call it a "military project" or call myself a "defence contractor". If the people you are doing it for aren't sanctioning it, then using a term that suggests they do is dishonest and has potential legal implications. – user9158 Nov 28 '14 at 4:01

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