Honoring our Roots: Ford ErgoRX

Human-centeredness is a cornerstone of our company formed nearly 25 years ago. While we are excited about changes ahead, we remain true to our DNA – our values, beliefs and behaviors and the culture that has made us a great place to work and deliver impact.

Let me spend a few minutes “honoring our roots” – in “human-centered” consulting.

First, let’s remember that words matter. Did you know that the terms, “company,” “corporation” and “organization,” terms that we routinely use, have a human-centered origin? “Company” evolved from “companion,” “corporation” from the Latin word “corpus,” meaning “body,” and “organization” from “organ.” These are all terms that refer to people, humans, flesh and blood.

It’s hard to escape the human connection – nor would we want to. We also refer to our combined Strengths Finder chart, where each employee’s top five strengths are shown, as our “corporate DNA.”

Evans’ DNA is made up of collection of diverse, yet complementary, strengths or attributes that define us as one unit, one company, one team, but also as individuals. Think of it as a human with blue eyes and blonde hair, the eyes and hair being attributes that are part of the whole organism. So, although our DNA collectively makes us into a company, we are separate individuals, or attributes to the whole organism, as well.

Our DNA is more than a compilation of strengths, of course. Just as an organism’s DNA does not tell the whole story, we are also an organization defined by shared values, beliefs, vision and purpose. This entire combination of values and strengths is essentially what we call our “prosilient” Evans DNA – our culture. I think all of you would agree that Evans’ DNA sets us apart from other companies or organizations. Our DNA helps us frame a consistent experience for us all and allows us to stretch and grow. – That part of our ROOTS is something we will continue to honor!

Second – let me tell you a story that really defines us as Human-Centered.

Many have heard me talk about Ford – our first client.

Let me add more to that story – to help you understand why I’m passionate about those roots. To me, our work with Ford and the Ford UAW to help them automate a paper evidence book exemplified human-centered consulting – on MANY levels.

For context – this work began in the mid-90’s – many of you were in grade school or high school or maybe college – a few of us have a few more years of experience. But email, the internet, and web-based applications were just emerging.

Ford’s head of Corporate Ergonomics came to me with a problem, searching for a solution to improve their Ford Ergonomics Process – a documentation-heavy paper-based process required by Occupational Safety and Health Administration. What could we do to make it easier, and make the data more sharable, auditable? Together we created a kind of skunk works to design and develop a solution – and as we navigated Ford’s corporate IT bureaucracy – finally launch 4 years after its start.

Why human-centered?

  • We partnered with them to automate a paper documentation process – one that the plants used to ID, track, and resolve ergonomic – human/work – issues in the plants.
  • The partnership was based on relationships of trust and respect at all levels – union and management workers from the plant LECs, engineers designing production lines, and corporate/management responsible for compliance with the OSHA mandated process – and our mutual efforts to use automation to make the process better.
  • We designed experiences that enlisted their buy-in, requirements, and feedback – and enabled them to be the adopters and champions for the application’s adoption in the plants
  • We were also “organization innovators” – bringing our tech nerdiness and game changer attitudes to the challenge of designing an application for the web before Ford IT had any web standards. We partnered with our client at Ford to push the envelope – for tech and for access.

The resulting web-based database application, ErgoRx – for Ergonomics Resource Exchange – was launched as Ford’s 1st web-based health and safety application, and Ford’s 2nd web application overall.
And Evans continues to host, support and maintain ErgoRx – since 2009 as version 2.0 – where it’s used in 17 countries, by 43 active LECs, and 1300 users, and over the past 10 years, has tracked nearly 12000 ergonomic concern investigations.

Our roots as human centered consultants run deep – allowing a lot of healthy growth and diverse work to occur.

“Human-Centered” defines what we do and how we do it!