Jeff Ferreira-Pro, Idea Curator at one-stop vision shop VSP Global’s innovation lab, The SHOP, addressed our audience at Birds of a Feather 2014, and we’ve made the video available for you to watch, here.
VSP Global is much more than an insurance and healthcare company that offers vision care to 64 million Americans. They also manufactured 3 million pairs of glasses last year, developed management software for optometrists, and launched a fashion company making stylish eyewear.
Jeff’s group launched The SHOP last year as a VSP-owned startup with the independence to pursue what the eyewear and vision care industry will look like in the next 10-15 years.
VSP’s units are divided into discrete silos, like 5 different companies, that Jeff and The SHOP are working to bring together for crowdsourcing innovation, using Brightidea. They began seeking areas of opportunity for disrupting the retail eyewear industry in the age of online shopping.
The SHOP believes wearable technology is the wave of the future and VSP is producing Diane Furstenberg prescription glasses with Google Glass. Their partnership with Google Glass spawned a tenfold increase in visits on their employment website, displaying the value of marketing and partnering with strong brands.
Alternative manufacturing is another area where they see great potential, embracing 3D printing and dynamic manufacturing to meet unpredictable demand. New technology such as mobile retinal scans and mobile prescriptions, might be seen as threats to VSP’s traditional business model, but The SHOP is working to embrace these new technologies and capitalize on them.
Their innovation program employs a cross-organizational team, with ideas divided into disruptive ideas, challenging ideas, and straightforward ideas. The straightforward ideas come organically, without the need for The SHOP. For the others, The SHOP employs a top down, bottom up, middle out structure that draws on resources from all departments, at all levels of the company to inspire innovation. They have seen positive response from including groups not traditionally associated with innovation, such as finance.
They facilitated eyewear manufacturing by having each unique prescription pair of glasses tagged with a smartphone-activated LED, so that each can be easily located on the assembly line, reducing costs by eliminating the need for five full-time “finders.” This innovation doesn’t just come from The SHOP. By sourcing ideas from across the organization, such as from these “finders,” they are able to get innovation from those working in the trenches.
These steps have created a thriving innovation program at VSP Global. What’s up next for The SHOP? Implementing a program to track and record their successes and failures to learn from their past mistakes. They are also defining new metrics to track disruptive ideas, which don’t lend themselves well to traditional metrics.
Stay tuned for more insightful innovation presentations from Birds of a Feather 2014.