Enjoyed your post on a subject I also have written about, which is, dearth of new innovations that actually mean something in society. Part of the problem of course is people are shooting for making money as quickly as possible — playing things safe — as opposed to attempting to shake things up.
I note here, however, that you are using the words optimizing, or optimization rather loosely. Optimization means attempting to find an equilibrium solution. Given an earth shaking innovation enables much more of an improvement in equilibrium than newly improved sneakers, optimization in fact should produce the earth shaking innovations the world so dearly needs.
There may be other more appropriate substitutions, but ‘playing it safe’ is more appropriate to your story than optimization.
By the way, optimization does not induce stagnation. An optimal solution shakes things up, creates a new equilibrium. Once the new equilibrium is created, parameters of the economy change, and eventually create demand for a new optimization.
Given this is the natural process, a process that cannot be avoided, to wit,
optimization creates change, change settles into stability, the new stability becomes foundation for new optimization,
optimization cannot be characterized to be source of stagnation.
Rightly implemented, optimization creates stability that becomes foundation for new change.
That said, it is truly the case that the current status quo attempts to lull everyone to sleep and complacency.
The question is, “what exactly do we all individually plan to do about that?”