sky factory

2 Page Paper plus references.due by tomorrow at 8pm

A major challenge, of many growing companies, is encouraging workers to help in building the company 

and not to simply be there to get a paycheck. So, this issue has led management teams to focus on 

building collaborative work cultures and incorporating shared visions among employees of their 

respective companies. 

In building a deeper perspective into this challenge, you will be reading a case study, on page 302 303 

of our ebook, that focuses on a company called The Sky Factory®. Once you read the Real World Case 

on this Company, and complete your additional outside research, address the following questions: 

(please note the questions here are slightly different than those in the ebook and you should only 

address the questions that follow here.) 

 Many successful companies practice open book management that includes disclosing financial 

information to all employees. What are the potential benefits of this disclosure? 

 Why would some companies not want employees to have access to all information in a 

company, including financial information? 

 How do you think owning a piece of a company, through profit sharing or stock options, affects 

employees’ attitudes? 

 Besides open book management and profit sharing, how else can The Sky Factory motivate 


 Based on the company you would like to start, how would you ensure that you build a 

collaborative work culture that incorporates a shared vision among your employees? What are 

the advantages and disadvantages of your strategy here

Case Study

the Art of Corporate Culture:

the sky Factory’s Five principles

perhaps only an artist would want to create a company in which the com pany  itself  is  as  much  a  work  of  art  as  the  products  it  produces.  about  building  a  company,  Bill Witherspoon,  painter  and  founder  of the  Sky  Fac tory, told Inc. Magazine that “both painting and company building start  with  a  blank  canvas.  In  a  painting  you  create  beauty  with  the  addition  of  each brush stroke. In a company you create it with the addition of each tal ented, engaged person and with each thoughtful act.”1 he decided to apply  artistic principles to building and managing a company. 

Witherspoon’s  vision  was  truly  about  visions.  Noticing  that  most  work ers  today  are  enclosed  in  esthetically  unappealing  closed  rooms—or,  if  they have windows, the windows look out on less than inspiring streets or  industrial areas—he decided to create and market “virtual windows.” What’s  a virtual window? exactly what it sounds like. Using high resolution backlit  images, acrylic tiles, and daylight quality lighting, the Sky Factory opens up  vistas  of  mountains,  oceans,  forests,  or  any  other  beautiful  scenes  you  can  imagine—by projecting virtual windows on walls (or skylights on ceilings).  In  the  process,  he’s  enchanted  architectural  designers,  art  publications,  Feng  shui  enthusiasts,  naturalists,  interior  designers,  and  technologists.  Judging by the coverage in the mainstream press, including Inc., the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal, he’s succeeded in building a beauti ful company as well.

the  Sky  Factory’s  customers  are  typically  businesses  that  operate  in  industrial  urban  environments,  in  buildings  with  little  or  no  natural  light  and—if  they  even  have  windows—no  stunning  views.  Using  a  mixture  of  technology,  video,  and  animation, the  Sky  Factory  turns  such  drab  spaces  into  inspiring  work  areas  in  which  employees  look  out  onto  tranquil  lakes,  leafy  forests,  or  snow capped  mountains.  Best  of  all,  the  virtual  views  are  dynamic: the  wind  blows  ripples  onto  the  lakes,  the  forest  trees  sway  with  the breeze, snow falls on the mountain tops. the Sky Factory achieves all  this  while  also  bathing  the  room  in  natural  light  that’s  perfectly  aligned  with  the  scene  being  viewed  out  the  virtual  window. You  might  think  that  such beauty could be distracting. Yet studies have shown that productivity  actually goes up, not down, when employees have such pleasing scenes to  rest their eyes on. 

as innovative as the Sky Factory’s products are, its management phi losophy is even more forward looking. Its secret sauce for building a beau tiful—and  highly  profitable—company?  Five  cultural  principles:  transpar ency, flat hive management, consensus, service, and performance.

Transparency  means  that,  with  the  sole  exception  of  private  personal  matters  and  compensation,  there  are  no  secrets  in  the  company. From Witherspoon down to the part time administrative  assistant,  everyone  possesses  as  much  knowledge  as  anyone  else.  For  example,  all  financials  for  the  company—sales,  costs,  profits— are  disclosed  to  the  entire  company  at  weekly  team  meetings  so  that everyone understands the business’s financial stability.

“Flat hive”  management  means  that  all  workers  are  considered  equals.  Flat  management  starts  with  the  principle  that  there  are  no  managers  and  supervisors,  and  there  are  only  owners.  With erspoon  explained  that “my  first  decision  was  to  give  people  the  opportunity  to  purchase  discounted  ownership,  and  100  percent  of employees have participated. the responsibility for revenue and profit  b e l o n g s   t o   e v e r y o n e .”  to   t h a t   e n d ,   s e l f m o t i v a t e d   e m p l o y e e s   p a r t i c i p a t e   i n   multiple job teams, each charged with a different function within the com pany. Because Witherspoon is wise enough to know that meetings of work groups  can  easily  deteriorate  if  no  one  is  in  charge,  each  one  has  a  facilita tor—but  the  facilitator  responsibility  circulates  among  members  of  the  group. all employees get their turn at facilitating. the goal: each employee  learns how to do everything within the company. 

the  core  value  of “consensus”  means  that  all  business  decisions  are  made  by  agreement  arrived  at  both  by  small  teams  and—for  larger  deci sions—by the entire company as a whole.

Service is the single most important value, because it brings everything  together.  Witherspoon  says  it’s  core  to  both  the  employee  and  customer  communities.  But  he  distinguishes  between  two  attitudes  that  businesses  can bring to service. the most common attitude is that the business does  something  for  the  customer—and  then  expects  a  return.  For  example,  most  organizations  that  care  about  customer  service  do  so  because  they  hope  to  receive,  in  return,  customer  loyalty  and  higher  revenues  per  sale.  By contrast, Witherspoon subscribes to the other idea of service—the self less  kind. “I  do  something  for  you  without  thought  of  a  return.  I  help  you  spontaneously and without thinking about it.”

Finally,  performing  well  is  applying  all  the  other  four  concepts  to  the  ultimate goal of superb results. and performance, to folks at the Sky Fac tory,  means  a  great  deal  more  than  financial  performance.  It  means  deliv ering  quality  products,  and  having  pride  of  ownership  in  everything  each  employee does. 

Witherspoon makes clear how creating that service experience for both  its customers and workers matters: “that appreciation of what we are doing  is what keeps great people here, and great people will ensure that the Sky  Factory endures. after all, that’s what great art does. endures.” 

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