A Monthly Briefing for Optical Lab Owners and Managers

- April 2019 -

Dollars & Sense

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Lab Notes

New Products


Dollars & Sense

5 Double-Edged Sword Philosophies that Lead to Destructive Company Culture

By Magi Graziano

Most of us spend the majority of our time at the office or actively working inside or as part of a human work system. Whether we are conscious to it or not, the corporate culture of an organization can make or break how we feel about the organization and our place in it.

While most awake and aware leaders say they want a constructive corporate culture, many are uncertain of what it really takes to shape it. Consequently, these executives and managers unintentionally lead their people toward the fatal, destructive side of the culture coin. They do this by buying into five double-edged sword philosophies: Winning above all else, commanding and controlling, opposing others, pursuing perfection, and keeping the peace. These philosophies will undermine your mission to craft a constructive corporate culture.

1. Winning Above All Else
Winning is an incredibly powerful motivator. The desire to win can move mountains and bring in profits, however, when the need to win overwrites better judgement, fragments and erodes core values, runs over people, and leads people to the brink of exhaustion, it must be called out and new behaviors that promote and inspire must be integrated into the culture. In pursuit of results above all else can cost of relationships, health and wellness, trust, quality and safety.

Inside competitive work cultures, members are often expected to operate in a “win-lose” framework, outperform peers, and work against (rather than with) their coworkers. What begins with a healthy race often devolves into unproductive dog-eat-dog internal workplace behavior. A once healthy desire to “beat the competition” gone unchecked, very often, creates opportunities for unproductive behavior and perpetuating neural pathways and automatic ways of thinking and being that result in an organization eating itself alive. This shows up on the floor by people arguing for win/lose scenarios, in-fighting for power, control, rewards, promotions and resources. A focal shift from we to me, where silo' and personalized thinking prevail.

Even though the intentions of leaders who want to “win” is most often well-meaning, a workplace culture that values winning above all else can be fertile ground for destructive behavior and employment brand erosion.

2. Commanding and Controlling
In power-driven organizations, hierarchy reigns and members of the management team are expected to take charge, control subordinates, and yield to the demands of superiors. Historically, this has been the ‘right’ way to lead and for many decades it actually worked. This model is flawed, however, and those managed by people who admire and enjoy this model atrophy and stagnate. In workplace cultures where this type of behavior is rewarded, the powerful take over and the powerless surrender.

When leaders and team members are expected and even encouraged to power up over others, people in the organization often view themselves as pawns in the micromanagement chess game, or simply as cogs in the organizational profit wheel. They lose motivation and initiative and give less of their discretionary time to make the organization better. Commanding and controlling is a vicious cycle, and the only way out is to call it out, and inspire a new way to lead and a new way to follow.

3. Opposing Others
In oppositional workplace cultures there is often a root of overcoming obstacles that afforded the organization sustainability and success over years. But what often got us here will not get us there; and opposition is one of those elements of culture, much like winning at all costs, that turns the organization against itself. In work cultures where members are expected to be critical, oppose ideas of others, and make ‘safe’ decisions, people drop into fear, and suppress their ideas and creativity. Opposition shows up in communication such as, “Yes, but,” “We already tried that and it failed,” “I have been here for years and I know it won’t work,” and “No, because.” While everyone ought to be singing from the same overall hymnal and work together in tolerance and engagement, members of this type of organization spend far too much time navigating personalities and conflict, than collaborating, innovating and solving problems.

4. Pursuing Perfection
In other cases, there are leaders’ of quality-driven organizations who pride themselves with a commitment to excellence. While that intention may have been initially pure and congruent with the leader’s values, all too often the unconscious underlying behavior that is fostered with this value, is perfection. In a culture of perfection, people do not take risks, they do not try new things, and they almost certainly do not put themselves or their reputation on the line to color outside the lines.

Leaders of many modern organizations often stake their reputations on delivering excellence or superior service. There are not many CEOs who would stand behind sending out sloppy work, or delivering code to customers littered with errors; but there is a subtle difference between standing for quality and being in pursuit of perfection.

Perfection, by nature of its definition, leaves very little room for risk taking and creativity in your organization. When curiosity is stifled and looking good is the primary focus, mistakes are hidden, learning is mitigated, and growth is constrained. In an environment where perfection is celebrated and rewarded, conventionality emerges as a safe bet for staying out of the boss’ cross hairs. In a work place that prioritizes perfectionism, members are expected to conform follow the rules and make a good impression, and the byproduct of making a good impression and following the rules is that creativity and risk-taking are thwarted and innovation becomes impossible. Resistance to change becomes a blocker to progress and complacency sets in. While certain roles demand perfection or someone could die, perfection as a culture, limits and constrains what is possible for the organization and the people in it.

5. Keeping the Peace and Getting Along
Everyone who is anyone in business understands the need to cooperate with others in the workplace and the need for teamwork and collaboration. However, creating a work culture where everyone has to be liked and everyone has to get along with little to no emphasis on performance or results; most often leads to over-the-top consensus building, perceived favoritism, a loss of focus and ambition, inconsistent accountability and a very destructive fear of conflict.

In a work culture where needing approval is a core component of how the organization works, team members are expected to agree with, gain the approval of and be liked by others. In a work place such as this, disagreements are frowned upon and people are encouraged to go along with the crowd—even when the crowd is prepared to drive off a cliff. When team members fear conflict, even constructive conflict, they are incapable of engaging in debates or openly voicing opinions. The team avoids conflicts; which involve speaking up against bad decisions thus leading to inferior organizational results.

It‘s imperative to understand that “keeping the peace” workplace cultures can be an insidious thief of organizational and talent optimization. Keeping the peace has the potential have rob the organization and its people experiencing the highest levels of role fulfillment and role satisfaction. When people and the human system they operate in does not actively engage in productive ways of being including; constructive conflict, speaking their truth, giving new ideas, and sharing insights of what is not working; they can never really get to real engagement in the workplace.

The five double-edged sword philosophies can sweep the rug out from under your company’s overall mission and set you drastically off track. Shaping constructive culture is about intentionally causing the kind of corporate culture that exemplifies your brand promise. This takes a solid and palatable intention for that culture as a holistic human system, a system of people operating as a living and agile organism. Intentional culture is all about monitoring what you are creating and making necessary shifts along the way to ensure you are accomplishing what you set out to by creating the intentional culture in the first place.

Magi Graziano, as seen on NBC, is the CEO of KeenAlignment, a speaker, employee recruitment and engagement expert and author of The Wealth of Talent. Through her expansive knowledge and captivating presentations, Magi provides her customers with actionable, practical ideas to maximize their effectiveness and ability to create high-performing teams. With more than 20 years’ experience as a top producer in the Recruitment and Search industry, she empowers and enables leaders to bring transformational thinking to the day-to-day operation. For more information on Magi please visit



Lab Notes

Transitions Releases Customizable Practice Tool for Patients to Build Their Eyewear


Transitions Optical has debuted a revamped Eyeglass Guide, with a new tool customizable to each eyecare practice that allows patients to create their own pair of eyeglasses based on their vision needs, eyeglass style and lifestyle preferences.

The many options available today can be overwhelming to patients. This guide will help them select frame styles and lenses that best fit their needs and preferences.

The Eyeglass Builder tool includes eight questions that determine how often they are bothered by light and glare, what activities they do indoors and out, and their eyeglass persona. When the patient has finished, the builder provides an image of the eyeglasses the patient designed, as well as their personalized recommendation of lens options that they can print or email directly to the practice.

Patients can also share the eyeglasses they designed on social media directly from the builder website.

“The new Eyeglass Builder helps patients assess their lifestyle, vision and style needs before entering the practice, so they are prepared to discuss them with their eyecare professional,” said Patience Cook, director, North America marketing, Transitions Optical. “Eyecare professionals can leverage this tool to engage patients before their next visit.”

Eyecare practices can sign up to personalize their own URL with their logo, practice name and contact information, as well as create links to automatically email results to the practice. Eyecare practices interested in their own personalized Eyeglass Builder URL can sign up at

Coburn Technologies Welcomes Jason Frank


Coburn Technologies, Inc. is pleased to announce the appointment of Jason Frank as their new Sales Manager for the Latin America market.

Frank will replace Pedro Parra, who is currently in the role and will be retiring after more than 38 years with Coburn. Parra will remain with Coburn until the end of April to ensure a smooth transition of responsibilities.

“Jason is a great choice for us here at Coburn,” stated Wayne Labrecque, Vice President of Sales. “He’s been in the optical industry for most of his career, and during that time, he has positioned himself well, not only in the industry, but specifically in the Latin American market. We thank Pedro for his dedication to Coburn, and are excited to have Jason join our Sales team.”

Recently, Frank was employed with Hoya as their Director of Commercial Operations in Latin America. Prior to that, he worked in management roles for Essilor International both in the United States and Mexico.

Frank has gained a breadth of experience in the Latin American market, and will continue capitalize on this in his new position with Coburn.

“I’m excited to be joining the Coburn team,” he said. “I have worked for the better part of my career to understand the trends in Latin American market and how the optical industry is positioned within it. I’m motivated to bring my experience to Coburn, and continue to grow my expertise with the team.”

For more information, visit

Quest Vision Specialty Care Lab Expands Management Team


Quest Vision Care Specialty Lab has appointed two new members to its management team.

Ilona Ostrowski has been named chief financial officer. She will oversee the company's financial planning and reporting, accounting, tax and treasury functions which falls in line perfectly with her background of financial planning. Ostrowski began her career in 1996 after graduating from the University of Gdansk, Poland and immigrating to the U.S. She worked for Cadwalader, Wickersham, and Taft, a New York law firm before joining Quest’s accounting team in 2014. Her experience includes financial, treasury and operations management, performance and risk management, mergers and acquisitions as well as board and regulatory relations.

“Ilona’s experience, knowledge, and skill set is a huge asset to our company, and we are confident in her ability to play a leading role in our continued growth,” said Michael Walach, president and CEO of Quest Lab.

In other news, Greg Boruta was appointed vice president of operations at Quest Lab. Boruta has been with Quest since its inception 14 years ago, climbing the ranks from apprentice to lab manager. Immigrating to the U.S. in 1996 after studying marketing at the University of Louis in Mielec, Poland, Boruta began his career at Walach Industries, learning optical tool manufacturing. When Quest opened in 2014, Boruta was one of the original team members.

“Quest is incredibly fortunate to have such a diligent and talented member of our team now leading the day-to-day operations of the lab,” said Walach.


New Products

Signet Armorlite Introduces KODAK PowerUp Lens

Signet Armorlite has expanded its Kodak Lens portfolio with the enhanced single-vision Kodak PowerUp design.

With the increasing use of digital devices, eyeglass wearers of all ages need vision support for prolonged, comfortable reading up close. Kodak PowerUp offers two levels of power boost in the reading area, 0.40D and 0.66D, for adults that are not ready for a progressive lens design, but need additional correction for up-close vision while using phones and/or tablets, etc. The low levels of power boost reduce eyestrain and serve as training in the use of a near-vision zone for easier adaptation to progressive lenses when they reach presbyopia.

Kodak PowerUp lenses are available in clear, photochromic, polarized and blue light filtering lens options (Kodak Total Blue), in 1.67-index now and the polycarbonate. This combination is an ideal solution to meet the needs of the digital age. The new design requires monocular PD and fitting height measurements for proper placement of the power boost but are dispensed to the patient as a single vision.

Kodak PowerUp Lenses are covered by VSP and EyeMed; and will be added to other managed care plans in the following months. This design requires monocular PD and fitting height measurements for proper placement of the power boost but are dispensed to the patient as a single vision. A dispensing aid and patient brochures are available by calling Signet Armorlite Customer Service at 800-759-0075 or visiting


Brian Dunleavy, Editor, LabTalk/LabAdvisor

Brian is the Editor of LabTalk. He covers wholesale laboratories, lab systems, other ECP news and features/coverage. Contact Brian at [email protected].

Copyright © 2019 LabTalk. All rights reserved.

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