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Innovation: the key to successful ergonomics

By Ali Golabchi, Innovation Manager, EWI Works

In the dynamic world of the twenty first century, innovation has become the key to successful development and prosperity of any business. Businesses flourish and companies grow by continuously exploiting new ideas and embracing change. In ergonomics, the importance of innovation is just as valuable. Ergonomics aims to solve a wide range of workplace issues that can cause pain and discomfort, reduce productivity, lower quality of work, and trigger job dissatisfaction. Depending on the situation, the solutions can vary from providing a simple footrest to designing a complex industrial workstation. Considering the many purposes that a successful implementation of ergonomic interventions serves, innovation - in its many aspects - is critical to providing solutions that can improve performance, reduce costs, and eventually ensure achieving optimal results. This can be all the way from designing a new ergonomic product, to developing a new mobile phone application promoting micro breaks, changing your observation methods while carrying out an assessment and saving time, to engaging your clients in new ways. In any case, there are two main contributors to the effectiveness of any prosperous initiative: the innovative idea, and the ongoing innovation culture in the organization.

First: the idea itself

Innovation starts with creativity and being creative means coming up with ideas to do things better. If there is no great new idea to drive innovation, nothing is going to change. So do good ideas just happen? Definitely not! Then do we have to employ experts and creative individuals to help us find new ideas at every situation?! Absolutely not! Because firstly, no one is as informative about our work and the challenges and opportunities of it as ourselves, and secondly, we all have enough creativity inside us to come up with brilliant ideas, we just have to activate our inner innovative self! So here are 10 general tips and techniques for boosting our innovation and start making change happen:

1.Start looking at the same problems/situations from new perspectives.

2.Don’t focus on repeating the same process; look at different scenarios of tackling the situation

3.Get as much information as possible regarding the details of the case you are trying to innovate.

4.Use other people’s input on issues you are trying to solve.

5.Don’t look for the perfect answer from beginning. Look for as many answers as possible; the perfect one will stand out!

6.Start with the ideal solution/product/design; reverse engineer it to get to the idea.

7.Practice being creative by challenging your way of doing everyday things.

8.Do not rush implementing your ideas! Sit on your ideas until they are matured.

9.Think outside the box. Imagine there are no limitations when coming up with ideas; you will rationalize them later.

10.Trick your brain into believing that there has to be a better way. Because there almost always is!

Second: the people around

Even if you have lots of great ideas but there is no fitting innovation culture, chances are things are not going to change much! An organization’s attitude towards implementing change has a major impact on the success of any innovation program. Here are 10 tips on how to promote innovation culture in your organization as a team manager:

1.Be a risk taker! If you don’t get used to trying new things you will never know if what you are doing can be improved! Also keep in mind that taking risks keeps getting easier after the first couple of times. Flexibility is the key!

2.Allocate time and money for innovation and stop seeing it as a waste! The outputs will surprise you; you just need to be patient!

3.Do not wait for problems to start innovation, rethink the way you do everyday things and try to improve them.

4.Everyone in your team should believe in their ability to innovate. It’s not one person’s responsibility.

5.Spend time once in a while with your team to brainstorm on new ideas. Make it a fun experience too!

6.Ask everyone for their ideas, no matter their paygrade or job title!

7.Spend time frequently with every member of your team asking them about how they think their job can be made easier. (This will get you much more than innovation!)

8.Encourage learning among your team. Learning drives innovation!

9.Make innovation an ongoing endeavour in your organization, not a temporary undertaking.

10.Promote the culture of seeing every problem as an opportunity to improve.

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