Innovation and Insights

Environmental Protection embraces creative thinking and innovation

Working to explore and deploy state-of-the-art technologies to enhance our Environmental, Health, and Technology Domain ambitions.

Environmental Protection embraces creative thinking and innovation

When you reflect on past business successes and failures, what are the key lessons learned from an innovation lens?


This was one of the first questions posed at an off-site innovation workshop for Environmental Protection (EP). 


Lead coordinator of the event, Hassan M. Alzain, an environmental scientist and policy analyst from EP, noted that management had encouraged his team — and Aramco — to explore new channels of innovation and fully embrace an innovation mindset to help navigate the sustainability route ahead.

New breakthrough innovation

“This mindset strives to power key solutions toward addressing environmental challenges and achieving digitization. The workshop resulted in capturing new breakthrough innovative insights,” he said.


A dozen representatives from across EP gathered in downtown al-Khobar earlier this month for two full days of interactive incremental innovation learning and practice.


Hosted by external innovation experts and guided by the Operational Excellence Department Corporate Innovation Unit lead, Mazen A. Al-Sadat, participants were challenged to think differently. This wasn’t, they were advised, a traditional-style exercise. It was a structured method that encouraged new ways of thinking, including “gateways” to reach a solution — or to discard the solution if the idea failed to pass these gateways. 


In summary, the following five steps challenge us to apply deep thinking and creativity:


1. Start with a process, a product, or a system that already exists

2. Introduce innovation thinking to manipulate the existing situation toward a new normal

3. Visualize the change

4. Apply filters for market and technology factors

5. Assess for benefits and challenges.


In addition to this methodology, participants were further guided with additional tools to assist in thinking and innovating. These included the “subtraction” concept — for example, considering how Amazon managed to become a book retailer (in its early days) without a book store. 


As well as subtracting, we can also “multiply,” adding new components to an existing system to help visualize a new idea. For example, some headphone makers have added an audio track to cancel noise. 


Three additional methods — fusion, relation, and division were also discussed and tested.

Dynamic engagement

Nearly 40 breakthrough ideas were generated in an environment of dynamic engagement as participants were supported to make a positive impact. Potential innovative solutions included, but were not limited to:


• Strengthening efforts toward lower methane emissions through automated grid management

• Advancing monitoring and quantification of vegetation health, including carbon sequestration

• Enabling transformative scalability of Aramco’s long-term environmental ambitions. 

• Automating health management processes with machine learning predictive capabilities. 


Participants left the workshop inspired to think creatively and differently, equipped with a methodology to do so. Most importantly, participants made concrete plans to practically improve their respective business landscapes and innovate across opportunities. 


Through Aramco’s Environmental, Health, and Technology Domain, EP will continue to explore and deploy state-of-the-art technologies to support the attainment of our ambitions; inspiring the minds of young talents globally to tap into the discussion and contribute with meaningful solutions.


Caption for top photo: Consultant Ralph J. Rettler leads a session at the Environmental Protection workshop held in downtown al-Khobar earlier this month.


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