I make it my business to meet and connect people who are doing really good work. Sara Holoubek is such company. So much so that she decided to take networking to the next level: collaboration.
The company she founded, Luminary Labs, helps organizations identify and implement new, agile approaches to people, processes, and technology to build the business models that make organizations resilient in the face of change.
I caught up with Sara recently in New York city. Here's is what she has to say.
Sara: Absolutely. In early 2009 I hit maximum bandwidth as an independent strategy consultant. Not only did I have excess work, but I saw value seeking people with expertise required by my clients.
And so I reached out to my network, curating high-end consultants to accommodate client needs. By that fall, I had scaled my business without even realizing it. These people were no longer just working for Sara Holoubek.
We became something larger, with a greater mission. And so Luminary Labs was born.
Initially, I assumed that this structure might not be taken seriously. However, this agile, networked culture of experts turned out to be our greatest asset.
Once organizations entered into a post-recession rebuilding phase, they simply wanted the best talent possible.
It is no longer sufficient for a service company to throw bodies against a project.
Rather, talent must be curated. Never deny a client the best talent.
Sara: There is a big difference between a consultant and a good consultant. There is also a big difference between a good consultant and a scalable consultancy.
Let's assume you are a good consultant.
You are out-earning what you would make as a full-time C-level executive. The next step is to evaluate market demand for what you do, or what your future vision is. This is a critical blind spot for most entrepreneurs.
If there is market demand, you must really want it. For four years, I didn't want to run a business larger than myself. I remember the moment when I was no longer a consultant, but running a consultancy. I had become an entrepreneur.
Let's talk a bit about how you work with clients. Luminary Labs builds the business models that make organizations resilient in the face of change. Many organizations consider the transition a threat, preferring to stay the course with what has worked before. How do you help motivate businesses to see change as opportunity? Is there such a thing as an industry not in transition today?
Sara: Just about every industry is indeed in transition today. Much of the F1000 was built during the 20th century, when conditions were radically different than they are today.
For the past 50 years, we were all deluded by the unprecedented access to credit. Much of the "growth" during that time was absolutely unsustainable.
As companies enter a post-recession rebuilding phase, they are facing new challenges. Headcount and budgets are flat, and yet management is expected to grow the business.
Consumers are part of this equation; they have modified their tastes and behaviors based on the economy. Technology, and its usage, are changing faster than an annual budget can plan for.
If this is the case in your organization, you have a choice: Adapt and survive or fear and die.
This isn't to say that change is easy. It requires a special attention to an organization's unique culture and needs. We pride ourselves on helping our clients create the internal conditions for success.
Even the most innovative product or well-researched business case can fail if it is not designed with the organization's culture in mind.
Where do you see yourself and Luminary Labs going in the next year? What are your biggest challenges?
Sara: This year we will spend most of our time with the industries in the thick of transition, namely healthcare, life sciences, publishing, food systems, consumer packaged goods, education, and the automotive sector.
We also are thrilled to create a space and time for open innovation. One example of this is Health | Tech | Food, to be held on February 8 in New York.
Our biggest challenge has been finding a new office that accommodates for our growth without losing our agile approach. We also have some rather atypical kitchen requirements. Interestingly, all of the Luminaries are serious foodies.
What inspires you? Who are your mentors?
Sara: I am most inspired by observing how everyday people think, act and feel. My best insights arrive when I walk through the city.
It is very easy, and very dangerous, for a business to forget to stay in touch with real people. My mentors are numerous; it would be hard to name just a few. This is why I look forward to forming a board of advisors in 2011.
If you were to share one word of advice, what would it be?
Sara: Keep growing.
Do you have a transformation plan? What does it look like? Are you thinking about the culture of your organization as you plan what's next for your business?