About Us

Individually we are thinkers, builders, and launchers. Together we are building the new digital public experience.

Our Story

Technology should make our lives better. Years into John Harlow's career, he had grown tired of using bad corporate systems, hearing friends tell war stories of failed implementations, and reading headlines of IT budgets wasted on shelved tech. It was time for a change.

In 2012, he decided to get back into technology, but this time on the delivery side.  He found satisfaction knowing that his project would add value, not pain, to people's lives and that meant one less negative experience in technology.

Spring of 2020

After many successful projects across healthcare and telecom industries, our founder took his approach into the public sector across 105 U.S. embassies and then back into telecom across 3 continents. After 10 years of wins, lessons learned, and happy customers, it was time to scale this approach without the safety net of a large corporation.

Former colleagues, customers, and friends quickly joined in the mission to scale this approach together. In the spring of 2020, Ivory Skies and the Sky Framework were born in North Carolina's Research Triangle - where government, healthcare, and technology collide.

Sky Framework

The framework continuously triangulates on the shared priorities of the business, users, and the technologists involved in any given project. We call this overlay the Sweet Spot. Our framework provides our employees the objective soft skills, measures, and tools to keep your projects on track and in the Sweet Spot.

We prioritize the practices and capabilities, not processes, that drive high performing technology teams. Software engineering processes differ across our customers and their technologies and will shift overtime. The Sky Framework was developed with process modularity as a core element - we can adopt your process or you can adopt ours.

What We Prioritize

We believe in a generative, performance oriented culture. We use Westrum's1 organizational typology model to guide our decisions, actions, and behaviors at Ivory Skies.

High cooperation

To think, build, and launch software requires not only specialized expertise, but also thoughtful coordination among each expertise. Our cross-functional teams let everyone share the responsibility across each stage of the process, from design to launch.

Train the messenger

We foster an environment where it is safe to take smart risks and fail, so that anyone can message potential issues at any time, with or without the ceremony of a postmortem. Speaking up is encouraged and blameless, so that issues can be addressed before they become problems for the customer.

Share risks

When we cooperate, we share everything, not just the successes of launch. Quality, availability, reliability and security are everyone's job. One way we improve the quality of our services is to ensure that team members share responsibility. The improvement in collaboration that comes from sharing responsibility inherently reduces risk.

Encourage bridging

We build bridges between team members by increasing interactions, debates, and participatory decision making. In addition to creating cross-functional teams, techniques for breaking down silos include co-locating ops with the dev team; including ops in planning throughout the software delivery lifecycle; and implementing ChatOps.

Failure leads to inquiry

This response to failure is at the core of continuous improvement and the foundation of our culture. At Ivory Skies, failures lead us to ask questions about what caused the failures and how we can keep them from happening again in the future, creating greater awareness of ourselves and our company, so we can improve our technical system, our processes, and our culture.

Implement novelty

We encourage experimentation. Our employees have the freedom to explore new ideas that can lead to great outcomes. By releasing our employees from habitual pathways and repetitive tasks, novelty becomes an opportunity that turns into value for ourselves and our customers.

1. Westrum, RA. Typology of organisational cultures. BMJ Quality & Safety. 2004. 13:ii22-ii27.

Meet the Team

Self-funded and employee owned. We are a small business founded and headquartered in North Carolina's Research Triangle as a Certified HUBZone business.