Calibrating our shared compass

Calibrating our shared compass

We had revisited our values before, but this time felt different.

A lot has been written on starting a company: the mission, the reason to believe, the promise of a future product or service. And while growth companies strive to achieve sustainability, very little is written about that trajectory. Experienced founders know that the company they start is rarely the company they build. The companies that survive 10, 20, or even 50 years are the ones that figure out what must change and what must persevere — and that all starts with values.

In early 2020, I had a particular vision for what was next at Luminary Labs. After a decade of helping clients tackle thorny problems that matter, I had started to consider much longer planning horizons. But 2020 had other plans. A pandemic, reckoning with racial inequities, and fundamental shifts in where and how work is done prompted existential questions at all levels of our organization.

We committed to rebooting our culture, doubling down on diversity, equity, and inclusion. While we were known for intentional business design, closing the gender pay gap, and rooting out bias in our recruiting process, I now realize that this work was not as intersectional as we wanted — or needed — it to be. A core component of our current company culture work has been a deep evaluation of who we are, and more importantly, who we aspire to be.

We had revisited our values just a few years prior, but this time felt different. Pressure-testing an established company’s values feels a lot more like being in middle school than being a middle-aged CEO. Teenagers know this feeling well: Trying on new identities and discovering what feels true is a necessary, if awkward, part of coming into your own. The entire company engaged in calibrating our shared compass — the one that guides every decision we make, from what engagements we take on to how we show up at work.

I couldn’t be more proud to share what we co-created: A set of values that will guide our work for the next several years — and help Luminary Labs grow into its next decade.


We strive to deliver amazing outcomes on the problems that matter most. If you ask anyone at Luminary Labs why they joined the company, it’s because they want to have an impact. That impact is multifaceted: It’s the greater good, the quality of our work, and the outcomes we deliver. We turn great ideas into great realities.

Thoughtful and considered

Our actions are guided by what really matters. We take into account the context and conditions, and make decisions accordingly — whether that’s asking a candidate if the room temperature is right or designing bespoke programs that acknowledge the forces at play.


We are fascinated by the people and the world around us. We ask a lot of questions because we want to know how things work and what motivates people. We love thinking about new topics and problems, from detecting opioids in the mail to prototyping digital therapeutics for metastatic breast cancer to helping high school students design and fly small satellites.

Bold and brave

We imagine and achieve what’s possible, even when it looks hard. We embrace uncertainty and imagine better futures for ourselves and others. Our clients are innovation mavericks, swimming upstream to effect change — and we delight in bringing their visions to life, even in spaces with many constraints.

Totally honest and totally kind

Because we care about our people, our clients, and the world at large, we have learned to be both direct and thoughtful about the way we truth-tell. We’re ready to do the work required to build a world in which everyone thrives.


Sara Holoubek
Founding Partner and CEO