We envision a world wherein the pristine beauty of nature is brought inside, where fine art and technology help to deliver the peace and balance that come from authentic experience of the depths of nature. We are committed to providing practical, affordable ceiling and wall installations that accomplish this in a pure and profound way.
The Sky Factory
Formed in 2002, The Sky Factory is a company of 35 people in a 12,000 sq. ft. facility on five acres in Fairfield, Iowa. Our business is to provide you with the highest quality Illusions of Nature™ and to do so affordably. “We” also includes over 50 other 'partners' in various countries around the world. These are business associates, but more significantly friends, who, inspired by the beauty of nature, are bringing the sky inside for the people of their country. Many of us are artists of one kind or another but fortunately, we also have our share of engineers. Everyone has a healthy respect for magic - necessarily so - since our art lies in creating illusion.
The Sky Factory is also a creative business experiment. Drawing on founder Bill Witherspoon's decades of entrepreneurial success and failure and a desire to put nature's own organizing principles into practice, The Sky Factory is an incubator for powerful new ways to organize, motivate, and inspire the work of a group of people in the service of creative, quality products that improve life.
Implementing some of the key practices of Jack Stack's Great Game of Business, especially Open Book Management, along with dedication to Extreme Customer Service, Lean manufacturing, Fine Art Aesthetics and Quality, and a deep reverence for Nature, Sky Factory is a unique young company with some engaging ideas about the role of culture in life and business.
Sky Factory People (Who's on this bus?)
The people at The Sky Factory love nature — how nature looks, operates, creates and maintains itself. We are a diverse group of people ages - 18 to 68 and hailing from many parts of the U.S. and around the world. We get along extremely well. Getting on the Sky Factory bus requires more than just a ticket, we've had to earn (and, in some cases, make) our seats - a multi-pronged interview process, trial periods, team reviews, and consistently good work with attention to the quality of our products, our service, and our culture.
Slackers don't last long at the Sky Factory, nor people who aren't comfortable with accountability, flexibility, self-improvement, teamwork, and a little whittling away of the ego. As a group, we're interested in sustainability, pure food, fitness, the best image making technologies, and healthy net profits from great products and great service.
Community is important to us. We care for each other in our little Sky Factory community, and the result is that the group is more than just a number of individuals. We are actively engaged in a variety of other communities that intersect with aspects of our own multifaceted identity, and we like our town. We are engaged in sustainable farming activities and initiatives on a local and national level through our non-profit; we're connected to the national Open Book Management community; and we're networked with researchers and designers pursuing a greater understanding of our inherent love of nature — biophilia.
Of course, we spend most of our time designing and making products for our clients, but lately we've been planting an organic chestnut tree orchard, starting bee hives, and figuring out the best alternative energy source for the factory.
Culture is to the corporation what DNA/RNA is to the life of living organisms - the internal blueprint and communication system by which a cell and the entire organism is created, maintained and grows. A healthy organism results from functional DNA/RNA and its related systems. Disease results from corrupted DNA/RNA. Similarly, culture is the internal fabric that is both formative and expressive of the behavior of all individuals (cells) and the corporate body.
Recognizing the fundamental role of culture, The Sky Factory is deliberately built around five cultural principles — transparency, flat hive-management, service, consensus and performance.
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Transparency. With the exception of individual HR matters and compensation, all information throughout the company is open and displayed to all Sky Factory staff. Weekly all-company meetings include review of current company financials and performance metrics as well as discussion of all significant short and long-term business issues. There are no secrets.
Flat, hive-management. Sky Factory does not have a hierarchal system of management - no managers or supervisors. Sky Factory is a 'bottom up' organization of self-motivated individuals who participate in multiple job-teams and take periodic responsibility as the “facilitator” for one or more functional groups. The goal (recognized as unachievable, though worthwhile) is that everyone should know and be able to do everything. Individuals rotating through different jobs and teams as well as transparency support this goal.
Service. Service is the foundation that underlies our contractual relationship with each other, our customers, the corporation itself and our community (which extends to the world). However, as we extend our experience of service, it has become increasingly common that many find themselves engaging in service spontaneously - without consideration of return.
Consensus. All business decisions are made by a consensus within small teams or by the entire company. Complete transparency, alertness to the full range of the company's goals and business activities combined with flat management ensures that gaining consensus is highly efficient. Consensus ensures maximum input of group intelligence and results in maximum buy-in as well as insightful decisions.
Research over the last several decades indicates that nature promotes healing in healthcare settings, improves productivity and satisfaction in the workplace, and increases well-being and reduces stress in all environments. Scientists hypothesize that people have an inherent attraction to nature, called biophilia, which makes viewing nature, even images of nature, a genuine psycho-physiological benefit. Our photography and digital cinema-based products are a fusion of nature-inspired aesthetics and leading-edge digital image making that trigger useful changes in mind and body. Sky Factory's primary concern is to design and manufacture effective Illusions of Nature™. Our clients attest to this, regularly telling us how much people enjoy the presence of our products in their hospitals, clinics, offices, shops, schools and homes.
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