The Defence Advanced Projects Research Agency (DARPA) is famous for having invented the internet, among other things. This essay digs into how DARPA works. Lots of great detail on how to build a small, fast-paced, low budget organization that works on moonshots.
Here's an interesting and suprising bit on the important of opacity of communication:
Opacity is important to DARPA’s outlier success. Congress and the DoD have little default oversight into how a PM is spending money and running a program. Opacity removes incentives to go for easy wins or to avoid being criticized by external forces.
Of course, opacity can also be abused in too many ways to list, so it’s important to ask: How does DARPA incentivize people not to abuse opacity? DARPA’s small size and flat structure enable peer pressure to work in positive ways. Finite tenures either make people want to utterly crush it or not care at all.
Another really interesting bit on being idea-constrained rather than budget-constrained:
“I never really felt constrained by money,” (former DARPA director) Tether says. “I was more constrained by ideas.” In fact, aerospace engineer Verne (Larry) Lynn, DARPA’s director from 1995 to 1998, says he successfully lobbied Congress to shrink his budget after the Clinton administration had boosted it to “dangerous levels” to finance a short-lived technology reinvestment program. “When an organization becomes bigger, it becomes more bureaucratic,” Lynn told an interviewer in 2006.