From Wikipedia: “the designation ‘skunk works’, or ‘skunkworks’, is widely used in business, engineering, and technical fields to describe a group within an organization given a high degree of autonomy and unhampered by bureaucracy, tasked with working on advanced or secret projects.”
The Power2Switch skunk works lives up to this name and its ideals. The skunk works is free of the bureaucracy of the normal start-up environment, and is tasked with some very advanced technological and secret projects intended to deliver products that support the P2S mantra of “helping people make smarter energy decisions by using data, design and technology”. (Picture the high-flying energy and bureaucracy-free environment that is a start-up, and then crank that up on your favorite energy drink – that’s the P2S skunk works!) The P2S skunk works was created at some point in time in the past. A rotating number of engineers, creative types, and mad scientists work for the skunk works – most of them without really knowing that they’re working for the skunk works. The skunk works are housed in a non-descript office located somewhere in North America. The door has no sign, and you could find yourself within the skunk works office, and not even know it! Code names and secret lunches are a daily occurrence. (I’d tell you more, but then I’d have to kill you.)
The first major launch from the P2S skunk works was code named Project Pinky. Project Pinky is an electrical bill comparison tool that allows our customers to re-create their electrical bill and compare their current electrical bill with what it would be if they chose a different supply rate from a retail electric supplier. It’s meant to provide you with the ability to run a scenario analysis on your electrical bill to see the impact your choice will have on your monthly electrical costs. The black box that takes in your inputs and spits out the correct outputs is a proprietary and closely guarded secret. No one person understands it from end to end, with a handful of engineers and mad scientists only understanding their portion of the overall black box. (Don’t ask me – I don’t even understand it fully!)
It doesn’t really matter how the black box works. The point is you can now test the impact that a new supplier will have on your complete electrical bill. You’ll be able to see line item by line item how your electricity bill will change. And, not some average values, not really representing no one, but your actual electrical bill, with your actual usage, and your actual rates.
(Dang that’s cool! How exactly did they do that? I asked, and they said something about a “ratebook”… Then, I was kindly and forcefully asked to stop asking questions about it.)
So, why name it Project Pinky? (They were kind enough to answer this one.) Well, in the early stages of the project, the black box that does all the heavy lifting for this tool began to be affectionately referred to as “the brain”. This name continues to be attached to the black box to this day. It did not take too long for the team to make the association from “the brain” to “Pinky and the Brain”.
Soon, the “Animaniacs” and the “Pinky and the Brain” became marshaling songs for the Project Pinky team. (I told you – a bunch of engineers, creative types, and mad scientists in a room. What did you expect?)
Shortly thereafter, the Pinky Lunch was born. (I might be sharing a little too much information here, so if you don’t see any more posts from me, you’ll know I “disappeared” because of this.) The Pinky Lunch consists of a grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup. It’s a classic throw-back to our younger, simpler days of eating grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup while watching cartoons. (A big shout-out to Spicy Monkey who has supplied fantastic grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato basil soup to the P2S skunk works. It’s not worth asking them about it – the folks at Spicy Monkey weren’t told where the lunches were going when they were ordered.)
There’s nothing that I can tell you about the projects that are being worked on in the P2S skunk works. I’m not sure I even know of half of them! But, what I can tell you is that they’re going to launch some amazing gadgets and gizmos, the likes of which have never been seen before!