Customer story – Holos Change
What does success look like in business and leadership? Neil Crofts, Co-founder of Holos Change is an expert. This global consultancy that he set up alongside Mark Thomspon works with some of the world’s largest companies to help them answer exactly that question.
Their faculty of over 150 independent consultants and experts in diverse fields organise workshops to help clients innovate and lead for the future, now. We recently chatted to Neil and Tessa, Brand Director of Holos Change, to hear more about the world of tomorrow that they’re helping to shape.
Holos Change is not a typical business. They have no employees and were working remotely before the majority of us got a taste of it. The faculty (as Holos calls it) was brought together initially when BP formed a group of independent consultants to help with their leadership development over a decade ago. They’re seasoned experts and innovators from every field, from psychologists and former marines to actors and comedians. It’s this diversity that’s part of the beauty of Holos Change. Each workshop can be perfectly tailored to the client by drawing on so many different backgrounds and opinions.
One oil spill later and a programme for Barclays together later, Neil and Mark knew they didn’t want to lose the collective expertise these innovators brought together. “We realised that we wanted to keep the band together”, he told us. And so, Holos Change was born. They’ve grown 100% year on year since then – until COVID-19 has kicked things into overdrive. Between 2021 and 2022, Holos Change will grow an impressive 300%. Neil explained that “for companies, the pandemic has crystalised the need to change their cultures”. And who better to turn to than a group whose clients refer to as ‘The Elite’?
Working as Head of Strategy at tech media company Razorfish during the dot-com boom opened Neil’s eyes to huge possibilities. “Disruption is what we specialise in,” Neil told us, listing digital as well as carbon footprints, an ageing population, space and the pandemic as key phenomena. There’s a lot for businesses to think about if they want long-term success.
A conventional company is one that focuses and survives on reliability. Those that push boundaries and pursue disruption are what Neil describes as post-conventional. “Post-conventional organisations prioritise change,” Neil told us. He gives Apple as the ultimate example because they constantly disrupt their own products, as well as industries like music. It’s exactly that kind of company that Holos Change’s clients want to be.
“Leadership is horribly misunderstood in society,” Neil explained. “Boss style leadership is when you prioritise loyalty over competence. You’re focusing on short-term success.” Their goal in their client work is to educate people about what great leadership looks like. When you understand and adopt authentic leadership, it means sustained success for everyone. “The idea of one person being the leader is flawed,” said Neil.
The team took their insights and advice and created Holocon, a conference for leadership development professionals. This year, their fully virtual version represented one of their greatest successes so far. Guests could attend workshops and listen to speakers from all over the world, picking and choosing the most relevant and watching in their own time. Neil and the team were so pleased with how it turned out that next year will be staying virtual.
Although Holos Change doesn’t have rent to pay or regular wages to cover, there are still cash flow challenges that hold them up. Neil is extremely proud of the faculty (which is made up purely of contractors) and pays them within 24 hours of receiving payment from the client.
A lot of clients have fairly normal 30-day payment terms however some insist on 60-days or more. A few months ago, Holos Change had completed work for a client that was using an early payment scheme. In theory, this would have allowed them to pay Holos Change within 8 days in exchange for a small fee. Unfortunately, the client unexpectedly lost financial backing for the scheme, so overnight Neil found out they’d have to make the faculty wait months to receive their money.
That particular project involved a large number of their faculty, so it was really important to Neil that he found a quick solution. That’s where we stepped in. After a quick search on the Barclays website, Neil saw that MarketFinance could offer him fast funding to bridge the unforeseen cash flow shortfall. And better yet, it was delivered through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), so they wouldn’t have to pay interest or fees for twelve months.
What struck a chord with Neil was a shared ethos between Holos Change and MarketFinance. “From MarketFinance, I got more of an impression that there was some kind of humanity behind it, some kind of purpose,” Neil explained. “The team has always been responsive and sorted stuff out whenever I’ve needed it.”
As Holos Change expands and shares their insights with more businesses across the world, Neil wants to know they can support their current way of working. An invoice finance facility offers Holos Change peace of mind and is a quick and easy way of releasing cash when they need it.