Skunk works also refers to a unit within a company that attempts to use the techniques of the original skunk works.
Skunk works is also used to refer to projects undertaken by engineers without the knowledge or approval of company management. Famous examples of successful skunk works include the porting of Linux to the IBM S/390 series of mainframes.
The name came from the popular comic strip Li'l Abner by cartoonist Al Capp. In the comic, the Skonk Works was a small factory whose business used skunks (the exact nature of this enterprise was never explained). The Skonk Works was located far from other human habitation due to the terrible odor, and people who worked at the Skonk Works could only communicate with people of the outside world by yelling at them from a great distance while downwind.
On the request of the copyright holders, Lockheed changed the name of the development facility to Skunk Works.