Frequently Asked Questions

Are you a Design Firm, R&D organization or a Business Consultancy?

SkyLift Innovations is more than just a consultancy – we embed principles of research, design, business development and active learning in all that we do to develop feasible and impactful outcomes.   We use principles from many disciplines to co-draft new solutions to persistent and troublesome problems because we are fundamentally problem solvers.  We use classic design thinking (empathy, ideation, prototyping, iteration and learning) to develop solutions to tough business problems.  We use our diverse backgrounds and critical thinking skills to help our clients co-solve their sticky and wicked problems with tractable solutions.  We consider our clients our professional family and we don’t rest until they achieve impact in their industry.

Our focus comes from design principles used in design thinking, however we also use best practices from expertise in many fields – the holistic approaches from systems engineering, the abstract and creative tactics centered in artistic theory and practice, the pragmatism of business, the skepticism of science, the active risk mitigation of the aviation industry, the discipline and execution of military systems and the collaborative spirit derived from diverse and talented individuals from many of these backgrounds – designers, artists, engineers, scientists, entrepreneurs, pilots, facilitators, and other strategic thinkers.

Solutions are never generated in a vacuum.  We customize our teams based on the problems and generate solutions and requirements with our clients.  This is part of our analytic process – to determine the “best ways and means” of creating advantage with and for your company.

What is your History?

SkyLift Innovations was recently founded in 2017 after the owner and director realized that the intersection of his talents in research, design, aviation, business, risk management, and program management were helping create alternate futures for businesses he was advising.  This was realized simultaneously with the knowledge that there are a few others with this unique background among his unique network – and in combining talents there are many more talents once combined – creating problem solving and sensemaking potential beyond the sum of the parts.

So, it came to pass that SkyLift Innovations was created on the idea that deliberate collaborations hold significant weight where special considerations to complex issues were needed.  It was decided that SkyLift Innovations could raise the bar for business clients by connecting diverse practitioners of agile thinking with other ultra-talented individuals, especially on projects of significance where new solutions must be cut from whole cloth. Right out of the gate, a for-profit and a non-profit company were immediately the first SkyLift clients and have been realizing successes ever since.

What is the LADDIE Method?

The LADDIE method is a customized method that stands for:  LISTEN, ASSESS, DESIGN, DEVELOP, IMPLEMENT (+ITERATE), and EVALUATE.  SkyLift Innovations customizes this acronym in a system to solve wicked problems based on client perspectives and needs.  Specifically, we seek to:

(1) Listen – to understand one must first actively listen, which takes observations questions and positive feedback

(2) Assess – to understand, research, discussions analysis and deliberation,

(3) Design – once we understand the problem, we are selective on the risk level of the problems we address we are trying to solve we can cut solutions from whole cloth and,

(4) Develop – we create testable solutions first as hypotheses, with risk assessed and failure modes & metrics,

(5) Implement – we support the enactment of our solutions and assist with Iterations,

(6) Evaluate – we monitor legitimate metrics, and self-actualize on risk and change management.


Our approach lends itself to periodic reviews and annual or semi-annual assessments and updates for our clients.

Do you apply LEAN Startup Methods?

Lean Startup is certainly one special tool in the problem solver’s tool bag.  LEAN methods are useful because the same principles that allowed a business to understand their value propositions and initial customer segments can be used to aid development of their next market advantages – just like a startup.  Yet, LEAN principles are only one of many tools used by designers to help achieve real innovation from future business models.  For example, design thinking principles, scientific processes, systems thinking, complexity science, aviation risk management, and engineering design offer many other tools that can be used in the hands of cross-functional solution teams.

What types of business problems have you solved?

SkyLift Innovations has no pre-conceived notions of the tough business problems facing our future clients.  If we did, we wouldn’t be listening appropriately, or we would assume unwanted risk and likely fall short by failing to solve the right problems, case by case.

Instead we use a common design lexicon to give velocity to our internal collaborations about what we’ve heard, and externally we’ll examine the requirements, hardships, markets and other environments to communicate focus areas for your thoughts, your situation, your industry, and your customer’s needs, (or future customer’s needs!)  We dig in and learn about your specific circumstances and state, to first understand the real problems that require attention and solutions.

Businesses often have institutional norms at work that can be advanced, yet they also have to constantly consider the changing market, competition and external environment.  Likewise, businesses are often experiencing two types of errors across these areas:  “errors of commission” and “errors of omission”.  For example, committing resources in a relatively closed market is an error of commission, while not using available technology or research to assess that situation is an error of omission.

Beyond internal and external environments and in addition to error examination, we typically focus in three areas:

(1) people – human factors problems are often the most difficult to identify and are many times even more difficult to solve, both internally to the business, and externally to the environment or market.  Solutions have included research, leadership consultation and even workshops,

(2) systems - including processes or policies – e.g. what is holding back your business, what can be ‘systematized’ and what is not in place that might be by design?  We seek to answer the question “how might we…?” for example, “how might we advance and scale your business to handle the future, and

(3) technology – what technological solutions yield dividends beyond expenses for the short term and the longer term to overcome obstacles?  What role do humans play is first, and what part can be offloaded to technological systems to effectively free human burdens and/or actually generate strategic advantages – even automatically?

To date, SkyLift Innovations is earning a reputation building strategy that works, business development that yields results and designs that continue to generate operational advantage.

What are the typical costs?

At SkyLift we focus on transferring value at the lowest possible cost – our promise is that we will focus on your solution set and transfer that value at an affordable and agreed upon price.  We seek to provide you what you ask for and never more than you need.  Our goal is to earn your business and keep a repeat customer. We know the only way to do that is to provide excellent customer focus, humble and competent service, and really help address your future with marked competitive advantage.  We strive to succeed, deliberately, and where we fall short, we will smartly acknowledge and move forward with you to make it right.

The first step is a friendly conversation and your initial consultation, which is always no cost to the customer.  We would very much like to talk about your market, your situation, your needs and your business.  We will then recommend certain services based on your situation, tailored to your goals.  Pricing depends on services desired and selected – ones we co-develop and agree on.  Sometimes that is a one day workshop or assessment, other times it may be a weeklong workshop, or even an annual plan with periodic follow ups.  It all depends upon your goals, requested offerings, time-on-top problems and tailored services.

We want to earn your business through our phenomenal offerings and service!  Please give us the chance to earn your business and respect.  On plan, you will find our business rates are competitive and reasonable for the best design thinking services available.

Who is on the SkyLift Innovation Team?

We are serious professionals: often 20+ year veterans of multiple services:  researchers, scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, prior military or national security experts.  We love working together and with you.  We have a “no jerks” hiring policy.  In general, Keith will lead the project and tailor his wingmen and women to the goal, depending upon the services needed and desired!  The expert network of co-pilots are waiting in the wings to fly with you to your destination.  Non-stop services depart daily!  Help us design a specialized SkyLift crew for your business!

What are the first steps?

We would love to hear from you.  Give us a ring at 443-975-4306, or contact us at [email protected], and we’ll chat!  Then we’ll set an appointment to meet in person, or virtually, if not local.

Is SkyLift territory in the USA Only?

As of 2017, we are a domestic based, American service disabled-veteran owned business firm, however we have pending plans for international work.

What are your business motives?

We love the deliberate and systematic attack of business problems, dilemmas, conundrums, challenges and enigma.   We truly love resolution by creative means, and everyone on team SkyLift can claim unique solutions “fire us up”, because we generate our “flow-state” through teamwork with an interdisciplinary focus, to generate collaborative solutions that are unachievable otherwise.  We enjoy this highly functional teaming and tenaciously track and tackle solutions for impact.  We derive joy from competence, creativity and drive, no matter what the initial problem.  In the end, at SkyLift Innovations, client impact lifts us up sky-high!

How do you conduct research? Is it Primary or Secondary?

The short answer is “both.”  First, we will help you refine the problem, like one would expect of critical thinkers applying the scientific method.  To do so, we will need to engage with you;  actively listening to your situation and needs through interviews, surveys and observation, which is typical of primary research.  To gain a laser focus and understanding, we will often use secondary research along the path in our SkyLift process!  For specific cases, we may need to acquire necessary information beyond observation, as in the case of cultural studies and ethnographic research, in order to obtain invaluable first-hand information the SkyLift way.