How to Disrupt Yourself (Before Someone Surely Does) - Investment Capital Growth

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How to Disrupt Yourself (Before Someone Surely Does)

Posted by Cliff Locks On October 27, 2021 at 10:06 am

How to Disrupt Yourself (Before Someone Surely Does)


In 1943, the US Defense Department called Kelly Johnson, the Head of Engineering at Lockheed, with an impossible task.

German fighter jets had just appeared in the skies over Europe, and America desperately needed a counterpunch.

Johnson accepted the critical mission and designed, tested, and delivered America’s first jet fighter, the P-80, in a record 143 days.

Think about that: you can rarely negotiate a contract in 143—let alone deliver a final product!

Johnson’s success and his team, Lockheed’s Skunk Works, changed the course of the war.

They also helped to create a philosophy for rapid innovation that’s still used today by the most innovative companies.


Today, we use “going skunk” to describe the creation of an environment that empowers a small group of people to design a new idea by escaping routine organizational procedures.

Beyond Lockheed’s Skunk Works, incredibly innovative companies like X: Alphabet’s Moonshot Factory (formerly Google X) use these same principles.

There are 4 big secrets to their success that are worth learning and repeating.


Companies don’t “go skunk” for business as usual.

They do so to tackle Herculean challenges: Moonshots.

You go skunk when you want to go 10X bigger (1000%) while your competitors are pursuing incremental (10%) change.

Moonshots lead to the best outcomes. They significantly outperform small goals, medium-sized goals, and especially vague goals for 2 reasons: focused attention and persistence.

Your team will be more willing to try again if they fail the first, or second, third… or one-hundredth time.

So how do you form a Moonshot Organization or Team?

There’s no one better suited than X’s Captain of Moonshots Astro Teller to teach how to build and lead a Moonshot team.

He’ll be sharing his insights about how to develop a Moonshot Mindset and how to build a Moonshot Organization, reach out and I’ll make an introduction for you.


Steve Jobs famously said, “It’s better to be a pirate than join the Navy.”

And he hoisted a pirate flag outside the building housing the Mac development team.

This may be the most important key to success in Skunk Works.

You must wall them off from the rest of the company.


Because most companies suffer from “organizational inertia”: the notion that once a company achieves success, its desire to develop and champion radical new technologies solutions is often tempered by the stronger desire to not disrupt existing markets and lose money.

Many successful organizations develop an internal “immune system” against significant change!

Isolating your Skunk Works team in a location, physically isolated from the “mother ship” stimulates risk-taking, encourages weird ideas, and acts as a counterforce to organizational inertia.

Organizational inertia is fear of failure writ large.

It’s the reason Kodak didn’t recognize the brilliance of the digital camera, and why IBM initially dismissed the personal computer.

As Astro Teller puts it, “In any organization, the bulk of your people will be climbing the hill they are standing on. That’s what you want them to do. That’s their job. But you also want another team, your Moonshot Team, looking for a bigger and better hill to climb.”


The road to success as an entrepreneur is paved with failure.

You must have a strategy in place to handle risk and learn from inevitable mistakes.

This strategy includes having a bias for action, experimentation, and rapid iteration.

It means following Reid Hoffman’s philosophy: “If you’re not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.”

This is the spirit of rapid iteration.

A risk-accepting mentality is key to rapid iteration, failing forward, and ultimately entrepreneurship.

Trying out crazy ideas means bucking expert opinion and taking big risks.

It means not being afraid to fail—because you will fail. And that’s OK!

It’s part of the journey.


For most of the last century, science focused on extrinsic rewards, that is, external motivators.

These are “if-then” conditions of the “do-this-to-get-that” variety.

With extrinsic rewards, we incentivize the behavior we want more of and punish the behavior we dislike.

For example, in business when we want to drive performance, we offer classic extrinsic rewards: bonuses (money) and promotions (money and prestige).

Here’s the problem: a growing body of research shows that the costs of extrinsic rewards outweigh their benefits.

Once people’s basic needs are covered and are no longer a constant concern, extrinsic rewards lose their effectiveness. They can even crush the high-level, creative, conceptual abilities that are central to current and future economic and social progress.

On the other hand, intrinsic rewards, meaning internal emotional satisfaction, become far more effective.

The secret to high performance is largely based on 3 factors:

  1. Autonomy: the deep-seated desire to direct our own lives
  2. Mastery: the desire to extend and expand our own abilities
  3. Purpose: the need for our lives to mean something

Gaining autonomy, mastery, and purpose is motivation enough to make us work to our highest potential.

Ensuring that your team is given these intrinsic motivators is critical. And having a corporate “Massive Transformative Purpose” (MTP) and a corporate “Moonshot” is part of the DNA required to make this happen at scale.


Since Lockheed’s massive success, everyone from DuPont to Walmart has gotten in on the skunk game.

In the early 1980s, Apple Cofounder Steve Jobs leased a building behind the Good Earth restaurant in Silicon Valley.

He stocked it with twenty brilliant designers and created his own Skunk Works.

The result was the world’s first Macintosh computer.

This approach can be applied to any business, group, or organization that wants to innovate and go bold.

We live in incredible times.

The potential for you as an entrepreneur to disrupt yourself and your industry has never been greater.

Let’s talk about working together,  schedule a call:

Contributor: Peter Diamandis, Founder, X Prize Foundation and Chairman of Singularity University and edited by and Cliff Locks, Investment Capital Growth, Managing Director and Executive Coach

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Cliff Locks is a trusted mentor, confidant, and advisor to CEOs, C-Level Exec, and high-potential employees to help them clarify goals, unlock their potential, and create actionable strategic plans.

Available to join your Board as a Certified Master Professional Board of Director and Advisor.

I am a trusted mentor, confidant, and advisor available by Zoom and by phone to be your right-hand man, who will make a significant contribution and impact on your way to success.

As a Trusted Mentor, Confidant, and Advisor, I support you, along with your company’s strategic and annual operating plan. This plan may include marketing, sales, product development, supply chain, hiring policies, compensation, benefits, performance management, and succession planning.


Most successful leaders enjoy talking to someone about their experiences, which is why most develop a close relationship with a Trusted Confidant—a person with whom they feel free to share their thoughts, concerns, and ideas without fear of sharing too much or being judged by the people they lead, or their colleagues and superiors. I am a sounding board who will help you to better develop and see your ideas through to fruition.

The most effective Executive find confidants who complement their strengths and sharpen their effectiveness. Bill Gates uses Steve Ballmer in this way; Warren Buffett turns to vice chairman Charlie Munger. In the end, both the Executive and their organizations benefit from these relationships.

As your trusted confidant, I am always by your side, holding your deepest secrets and never judging. Everything discussed is held in complete confidence.

What many executives feel is missing from their busy life is a trusted business person who understands the holistic complexity of both their business and personal life.

I strive to provide solid financial, business, and family expertise and serve as a dispassionate sounding board, a role I like to call “Executive Confidant.”

By holding a safe place for the Executive to work on life path issues as well as direction, I repeatedly see remarkable benefits as personal values become integrated with wealth and family decisions, enhancing a more meaningful life.

As an Executive Confidant, I welcome a confidential conversation about the most important issues facing the business leader, including:

• Strategic planning toward your visions of success and goal setting • Operations, planning, and execution • Career transition • Retirement • Legacy • Kids and money • Marriage and divorce • Health concerns • Values and life purpose • Vacations • Mentoring & depth of the executive bench • Succession planning

When I do my job well, I facilitate positive action in both your professional and personal life. This consistently has a positive benefit on impacting people within the sphere of your influence.

The job of an Executive can be lonely. For various reasons, confiding in colleagues, company associates, family members, or friends presents complications. Powerful, successful, and wealthy individuals often isolate themselves as a protective reaction because of their inability to find people they can trust and confide in.

Successful people are often surrounded by many people, yet they insulate and isolate themselves to varying levels of degree. This isolation factor is not often discussed in the same context because the assumption is that success and wealth only solve problems. The false belief is that it does not create more problems, when, in fact, sometimes it creates a unique set of new challenges. Success and wealth do not insulate you from the same pitfalls that the everyday person faces. It may give you access to better solutions perhaps, and that is what I can help you achieve. Financial business success can create unique vulnerabilities, often overlooked as most people feel that the “problems” of the wealthy are not real-life problems.

The Executive Confidant can be particularly helpful when:

• Aligning life priorities with the responsibilities of wealth. • Wanting more meaning and purpose in life. • Desiring a candid and experienced perspective. • The answers often come from within, and we cannot arrive at them easily. • Clarity often comes into focus, with skilled questions and guided discovery. The right questions can be the first step in achieving ideal outcomes.

Who can you turn to when you need to find clarity? Who is your “Executive Confidant”?

Referrals to team members or family members are always welcome.


One-to-One – Individual payment: Strategic Coaching: $295 per month (weekly for 30 minutes to 1 hour depending on the depth of our conversation Zoom meeting).

One-to-One – Corporate payment:
i. Coaching & Leadership Development: $600 per month engagement (weekly 1 hour Zoom meeting).
ii. One-to-One Executive Coaching and Mentoring: $600 per month engagement (weekly 1 hour Zoom meeting).
iii. Increasing Top Team Performance and 1:1 Mentoring Sessions: $600 per month engagement (weekly 1 hour Zoom meeting).
iv. Planning New Futures for Senior Executives: $600 per month engagement (weekly 1 hour Zoom meeting).

Team coaching:
i. Enhancing Boardroom Effectiveness & Executive Impact Group: Starting at $15,250 per annual engagement.
ii. Strategic & Operational Planning/KPI Development: Starting at $25,500 per annual engagement.
iii. Productivity Assessment & Profitability Improvement: Starting at $25,250 per annual engagement.
iv. Sales Channel and Product Development: Starting at $25,250 per annual engagement.
v. Energy and Sustainability Efficiency Initiatives: Starting at $18,500 per annual engagement.

Board of Directors or Board of Advisors:

Email me: [email protected] or Schedule a call: Cliff Locks #WSJ #privateequity #boardmembers #corporateleadership #IBD #CEO #CFO #COO #BoD #CXO #management #privateequity #PE #hedgefund #limitedpartners #LP #venutrecapital #VC #ethicalbusiness #directors #corporategovernance #accountability #integrity #ethics #corporateleadership #leadership #nonexecutivedirector #nonexec #boarddevelopment #leadershipfirst #mentoring #thoughtleadership #managementdevelopent #mentorship #leanmanagement #leadershipdevelopment #business #leanstartups #businessstrategy #InvestmentCapitalGrowth

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