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Are You A Dinosaur?

Strategy guru Professor Gary Hamel suggested in Harvard Business Review (1) that “Successful companies, particularly those in benign environments, find it extraordinarily difficult to reinvent their business models. They can often experience prolonged reversals of fortune when paradigm busting change occurs”.

Could this be your business? Absolutely. What if we have an event like the Swiss watch industry with digital watches, or Kodak and digital photography?. How would we manage that change? Are our businesses at risk? Yes they are. Always.

It is easy to assume that business models are immortal, particularly in an environment like optometry where stability is the norm and life cycles are long. We might have learned that this is not always so in the last two years.

What we need to do to survive is develop a culture in the practice that supports innovation and continually questions why we do what we do and how we do it. This change can only come from you, the critical resources of the practice, its owners and staff.

The quest to find strategies that create change can’t start with an inventory of best practices or problems. Our goal must be to create a business model that is forever changing and adapting, forever taking advantage of opportunities and trends. If we get this right there should be fast painless change. No major surprises, crises, reorganisations or trauma. It will be very exciting and stimulating.

A core enemy of success is a creature called complacency. It is insidious and pervasive. It is very easy to be comfortable and accept what is rather than question and move forward. Complacency has three little friends. They are called inactivity, nostalgia and denial. They support complacency in holding back change when it is most needed.

How do we deal with these little monsters?

  1. Get close to where change happens. Who is driving change in your practice environment and where are they going. Listen to their views and understand the implications

  2. Deal with the custodians of the status quo and those who protect the company from the truth. Create a path of communication that rewards ideas that challenge.

  3. Fund and reward innovation

  4. Accept risk as a part of normal business.

The essential elements for the business that will allow us to be successful in this venture are:

  1. A management system that allows the practice to identify improvements and make them without undue restriction

  2. A work environment that is the best it can be, and provides staff with the tools, knowledge and inspiration to be the best.

  3. A culture of achievement, implementation and reward.

  4. Acceptance and acknowledgement of informed risk taking

  5. To identify how everything can be improved, not to question if anything needs improvement

  6. To promise only what can be delivered

Do not allow complacency, inactivity; nostalgia and denial make your business vulnerable and ordinary. Take the opportunity to make something innovative and exciting happen to your business and the way we do business.


(1) The Quest for Resilience. Gary Hamel, Liisa Välikangas. Harvard Business Review, September 2003.

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