Avoiding the Mud

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What makes a person innovative? In today’s business climate, which demands innovation, can everyone be an innovator?

At the VM Summit last month, innovative ideas were rampant as speakers took the stage to introduce new theories on health care, breakthroughs in vision technology and unconventional solutions for business (See page S1).

At Vision Expo East, inventive and creative products abounded from the sea of frames designed with unique materials and styles to the fascinating prototypes on display in the Vision Monday Eye2 Zone.

Interestingly, though, I encountered some of the most innovative ideas in a somewhat unexpected place—the points of conversation with optical retailers.

While many opticians and optometrists today are frustrated by a range of concerns they believe to be compromising their businesses, some ECPs are using this unsteady environment as an opportunity for change.

An optometric practice in Canada redesigned its office and boutique with unusual and attractive materials that appeal to modern consumers. Several high end boutiques are committing to eyewear collections which “give back,” thereby anticipating customer appetites for “social purpose” allegiances. Practices are extending their reach through social networks. There are signs that the optical business, as a whole, is being reinvented.

In an industry that straddles health care, fashion and technology, there are many ways to “change the game” or try something new. Innovation, above all else, means risks must be taken. As Bruce Nussbaum, one of the Summit speakers, advised, “Think on your feet or die in the mud.” Sound advice, since our options are to stand in place and chance what comes, or forge ahead and take the leap into the unknown. 

cwolinski@jobson.com