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John Marvin

The Importance of the Diversity of Ideas and Thoughts in Eyecare Businesses

Recognize we all have a contribution to make and that we are all committed to the same set of ideals and values.

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THE THEME OF this issue is “diversity” but I’m not going to address ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender or any of the other identity issues that often times are meant when discussing diversity. I am going to talk about diversity of thought and ideas. After all, this is what truly strengthens a business or any organizations.

Our national motto, emblazoned on our great seal, is E pluribus Unum — or Latin for “Out of many, one.” This doesn’t mean uniformity, but a recognition that we all have a contribution to make.

When it comes to your business, it is healthy, even powerful, to invite diverse ideas. Napoleon Hill, author of the best-selling book on the science of success, Think And Grow Rich, emphasizes the importance of building a Mastermind Group to navigate decisions in business. The value of such a group is not uniformity of opinion but its diversity of experience and therefore ideas and advice.

Here’s why diversity of thought and ideas can help you succeed:

Challenging the Status Quo

When your team is made up of people with different levels and type of experience, they have different perspectives. This enables them to look at problems or opportunities with a different context. Diversity of experience challenges the way things have always been done. It raises questions and challenges convention. The only way things are made better is to challenge the way that it has always been done.

Liberating Individuality

Too often today, the theme of diversity is used to promote uniformity or group think. Worse yet, it reduces people to categories of identity without regard for their individuality. When you build a business team that celebrates diversity of ideas, you actually liberate the individual. You say to everyone that their ideas are valuable, they are worth considering in making decisions. You also capitalize on the power of individual thinking.

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Driving Innovation

If everyone on your team thinks alike, and, more importantly are not encouraged to think for themselves, you are robbed of innovation. Innovation requires new ideas, new thoughts about how things are done or products that are offered to your customers. Successful businesses capitalize on this diversity of ideas by gathering a group of both employees and customers together for the purpose of coming up with a new way of handling problems.

A Competitive Advantage

Your competitors are working harder doing things the way they have always been done. When you encourage diversity of thought and ideas, you are creating ways to stay ahead of your competition. Think about the most disruptive events in our industry in the last 20 years and notice how each of them started with someone thinking differently about how to deliver eyecare, dispense prescription eyewear or sell contact lenses. None of these would have occurred if people were not encouraged, and even incentivized, to think differently.

The next time someone you interview seems a little different in the way they think about your business, they may just be the person you are looking for to make your business more diverse.

John D. Marvin has more than 25 years of experience in the ophthalmic and optometric practice industry. He is the president of Texas State Optical and writes about marketing, management and education at the practiceprinciples.net blog. You can email him at [email protected]

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