This is the Saturn Ergonomics Ergo Manifesto. For starters, we need a definition of the word manifesto. A manifesto is a public statement expressing your view or intention to do something. As Founder of Saturn Ergonomics, I’m maintaining a high degree of transparency with respect to things like mission, values, etc. I want this type of thing to be public knowledge.
I’m going to cover the items in the Ergo Manifesto individually.
To the core, the purpose of Saturn Ergonomics is innovation … creating useful technologies to enable ergo practitioners to do more, and do things more effectively. A prime example is RCRA (Recommended Cumulative Recovery Allowance). This model enables the ergo practitioner to conduct additive evaluation, modeling forces not with a weighted average or worst case force (which are pretty limiting by the way); but instead evaluate forces of different magnitudes, durations, and frequencies … in a single calculation. That’s innovation!
There’s also substantial innovation involved in building an RCRA-based infrastructure, and paving the way for more effective macro-ergonomics software solutions.
share & collaborate with others
My career began in industry and consulting, where I worked mostly in traditional-thinking companies. Traditional-thinking in that they treated intellectual property as something that was secretive, and ONLY shared with paying clients. And in no way would you EVER share or collaborate with another consultant (or researcher if looking at this from an academic perspective) … they might steal your IP. You know what? That type of company always talks innovation, but rarely produces any significant innovations. Seriously!
I believe that sharing and collaboration is NECESSARY for impactful innovation. Particularly, to innovate in my style … combinatorial innovation. The essence of combinatorial innovation is putting things together in new, more imaginative and creative ways. As I’ve learned, it takes discussion and sharing ideas with others to intertwine my ideas with the ideas of others. There are several things I’m working to develop that were inspired by a single sentence by an outside ergonomist or researcher during an information sharing session. We have an information sharing session tomorrow with an ergonomist from the automotive industry. I’ve never turned down a request to share information and discuss ergonomics. Even a request from one of the larger ergo consultancies! They eventually backed out from the visit … either the request wasn’t entirely sincere, or its possible that management disliked the notion of them “sharing” anything with me. Regardless, I have an open door policy with respect to sharing and collaboration.
This specifically pertains to innovation and the development of new technologies. Getting results seems like a no-brainer as an objective, but in past jobs I’ve been on multi-person teams working to develop new technologies and/or services. And the lack of results (and the acceptance of such) was a great source of frustration for me. Talking, billing thousands of $ internally, and making a big political show about something that in the end wasn’t all that significant. I’ve seen innovation projects such as this bomb, and then the managers involved sweep the failure under the rug and then get promoted. That won't happen at Saturn Ergonomics. Our innovation projects are expected to get results!
be practical, yet defy convention
Too many people in the field of ergonomics are bound by conventional thinking and dogma. We all know what conventional thinking means, but dogma may require a definition (it did for me a few months ago). Dogma is basically a belief or set of beliefs accepted by members of a group without ever being questioned. Some of the most innovative ideas defy convention.
For example, with the dynamic shoulder evaluation model we are developing, the key element that makes the model feasible is it being individualized. This is due to the geometry of the arm. The position/angles of the segments (upper arm, forearm, etc.) all depend on the size of the individual. Larger people have longer arms, and will typically have a different posture than a smaller person. And a person with a higher BMI will have heavier segments. A prerequisite for a practical, dynamic shoulder eval model (with simple, user-friendly inputs) may be that the model be individualized.
You wouldn’t believe the number of people upon hearing “individualized”, instantly relate this to the statement found in about every ergonomics text … “for force, ALWAYS design for weaker members of the population”. I agree wholeheartedly with “design for” in that statement. But what about evaluation? I think there is tremendous value in injecting the individual’s capabilities (strength, size, etc.) into the evaluation model itself ... individualized evaluation.
New, highly practical models are going to require unconventional thinking to conceive and develop!
think differently about ergonomics
The consulting marketplace is so crowded at this time, with about half of CPE’s being listed as consultants. And the software-focused companies seem to all offer software versions of the same models (RULA, NIOSH Lifting Guide, etc.). Under these conditions, it is imperative to have a UVP (Unique Value Proposition). I’m not looking to build a company that applies ergonomics just like everyone else in the marketplace. In any business, that is usually a recipe for mediocrity at best. The focus on innovation and new technology at Saturn Ergonomics gives me free reign to say … Saturn Ergonomics will think differently about ergonomics.
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