Ergonomists are technical experts, not marketing gurus, so it’s good to occasionally step back and consider our business from a potential client’s perspective. I recently attended a “Leadercast” presentation, which was a full day of insightful presentations from leaders such as Kat Cole and Steve Wozniak. Andy Stanley’s presentation left me thinking…he reinforced the importance of clear communication. In particular, he advised that we “state simply” the answer to the question, “What problem do we solve?”
Several years ago, our team came up with this mission statement:
“Inspiring, building, and supporting partnership between your organisation and our innovative team to advance ergonomics excellence.”
We printed this on mugs, our letterhead, and anywhere we thought potential clients might see it. We were excited about our “mission” because it seemed to sum us up nicely. It emphasized that we worked together with our clients (not “imposing” our recommendations, but generating them collaboratively). We snuck in “innovative” to show that we didn’t just apply a “cookie-cutter” approach, and we are creative in our problem-solving. And we wanted to emphasize that we worked hard to stay “excellent”. We were even proud to use the Canadian spelling of “organisation”, even though people (and spell-check) wanted to correct us on that.
But now we’re thinking…can we be clearer? We’d love your ideas…..what problem do we solve for you? From our perspective, there are many different types of “ergo” projects. We:
- get involved in design reviews for new equipment, layouts, or products, with the goal of making sure that ergo issues are designed out before a design is implemented.
- facilitate return-to-work and placement of medically restricted workers, so that workers can stay at work safely.
- assess the risk of musculoskeletal injury and provide recommendations to improve jobs to ensure that injuries are avoided.
- develop, customize, and deliver training so that people can make adjustments to their own work stations, or apply ergonomics principles appropriately.
How do we get all this across in a simple statement? Ergonomics means, in short, “fitting work to people”. All of our services aim to help companies ensure that work “fits” to the workers, usually by changing the job. The goal may be to reduce injury risk, or address an existing injury problem. The goal may also be to improve productivity or quality, where bottlenecks, scrap, or missed targets have occurred. Our clients are occasionally the individuals themselves, but most often, it’s the employers who hire us to help with an issue that they have identified.
What do you think of this? “Helping employees to work within their capabilities.” This statement has a worker-focus, rather than a focus on us. Would employers hire us to “help employees”? Would they understand that helping employees is good for business?” To be fair, we often do work with employees, but more often we’re working with employers to bring job demands within the capabilities of employees.
Is the following statement any better? “Supporting company efforts to help employees work safely and productively.” This isn’t as “simply stated”, but maybe it sums up our goals better.
How about, “Making poor workplaces better, and good workplaces even better?”
Or, “Collaborating with your team to make your workplace ergonomic.”
Please, join our brainstorm….we’ll share our new “vision statement” soon!