The Crazy Ones

By Steven D. Vold, MD

I am delighted to introduce a landmark cover series in Glaucoma Today’s history. In this special issue, pioneers in glaucoma research graciously provide overviews of their trailblazing bench work in glaucoma. Their unique insights allow us to reassess where the field is today as far as the diagnosis and treatment of the disease. I myself am inspired by the magnitude of their efforts, and I feel a deep sense of gratitude for their significant contributions to our field. My hope is that we can use their findings as a springboard into the future.

Innovation is a delicate dance. The development of groundbreaking products and processes in the business world is rare. Although many businesspeople talk of supporting innovation, few organizations actually build it into their corporate practices.

In 2012, Oracle worked with the Economist Intelligence Unit to conduct a global survey of 226 senior executives in order to explore the characteristics of companies that promise innovation.1 The six successful strategies highlighted in this survey were as follows:2

  • Reach across business units for innovative ideas
  • Engage customers in product development
  • Look to disruptive technologies to foster innovation
  • Learn from mistakes
  • Make innovation a managerial priority
  • Take a tactical approach to promoting innovation

The implementation of these strategies requires strong and courageous leadership, and it incurs a significant amount of risk onto any business. Consequently, true innovation frequently comes from small, entrepreneurial businesses for which taking risks may be more palatable than for larger, more stable companies.

Over the years, Apple Inc. has been remarkably successful at producing a pipeline of technological innovation that has transformed US culture. The company’s “Think Different” advertising campaign highlighted some of the most influential individuals in US history in the following fashion: “Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the trouble-makers, the round pegs in the square holes, the ones who see things differently. They are not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them, because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some might see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the people that are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”

Clinicians’ ability to detect and treat glaucoma remains far from ideal. My hope is that, by better understanding our heritage and where we are today, a few crazy ones will pursue changing the future with such creativity, determination, and perseverance that the lives of patients with glaucoma will be dramatically improved!

  1. Economist Intelligence Unit. Cultivating business-led innovation. Published 2012. Accessed September 11, 2013.
  2. Six steps to innovation. Oracle website. Accessed September 11, 2013.

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About Glaucoma Today

Glaucoma Today is mailed bimonthly (six times a year) to 11,519 glaucoma specialists, general ophthalmologists, and clinical optometrists who treat patients with glaucoma. Glaucoma Today delivers important information on recent research, surgical techniques, clinical strategies, and technology.