National Academies Press: OpenBook
« Previous: Front Matter
Page 1
Suggested Citation:"Innovation or Irrelevancy?." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. Guide to Creating and Sustaining a Culture of Innovation for Departments of Transportation. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25307.
Page 1

Below is the uncorrected machine-read text of this chapter, intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text of each book. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

1 Conventional wisdom holds that the public sector generally does not face the threat of new competitors entering the market; however, over the long term, that thinking may prove false. With changes in technology and the advent of the sharing economy, state departments of transportation (DOTs) will need to deliver services and products differently, or they may see their role reconfigured, diminished, or perhaps become irrelevant in the long term. For example, some transit agencies already see Uber and Lyft offering cost-effective mobility alternatives. Most DOTs face the challenge of falling revenue combined with a growing need for services and legacy infrastructure that is expensive to maintain and may not be located where people most need it. As traditional means of funding and delivering services become inadequate, innovation is an essential part of an overall strategy for success. Well-executed innovations provide: • More efficient and effective delivery of services (not always cheaper), • Better customer satisfaction through improved responsiveness, • Improved organizational morale by building a more inclusive and inspired work- force, and • A better ability to recruit talented new employees in a more competitive recruiting environment. Most state DOTs have made some effort to spur innovation, often by setting up their own State Transportation Innovation Council (STIC), which is a model for innovation that emerged from FHWA’s Every Day Counts initiative. But innovation advocates quickly realized that to encourage employees at all levels and locations to turn good ideas into reality, they needed to create and sustain a multi-faceted innovation-friendly culture that touches everyone in an agency and aligns work habits with shared values, processes, and institutional support. This type of cultural transformation can be challenging, particularly in the public sector, where profits are not the fuel for innovation and a “we’ve-always-done it-this- way” mentality can put the brakes on change. Initial bursts of energy, enthusiasm, and interest around new ideas can perish if an agency lacks the understanding of how to encourage cultural change over the long haul. This guide is designed to increase understanding of innovation cultures and provides practical strategies and examples of successful innovation cultures at work. Innovation or Irrelevancy? INNOVATION happens when people are empowered to move beyond the boundaries of conventional thinking, topple the status quo, and “connect the dots” in new ways that result in products or services that are more responsive to the communities they serve. Innovation has tremendous power to unlock human potential and organizational effectiveness. If a DOT can find ways to get things done faster, cheaper, or better, then employees will be more encouraged to achieve their mission, and time and money can be freed up for other needs. These kinds of positive results increase stakeholder trust and help an agency gain the political capital it needs to secure funding and support for mission-critical activities.

Next: Section 1 - Your Guide to Innovation Introduction »
Guide to Creating and Sustaining a Culture of Innovation for Departments of Transportation Get This Book
MyNAP members save 10% online.
Login or Register to save!
Download Free PDF

TRB's National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Research Report 885: Guide to Creating and Sustaining a Culture of Innovation for Departments of Transportation presents guidance for government transportation agencies on encouraging and sustaining a culture of innovation within the organization, its partners, and other stakeholders. A culture of innovation supports agency managers and staff efforts to encourage and accept innovation as a means to enhance the agency’s success. This guide is designed to assist agencies in assessing their culture with respect to innovation, identifying ways to make the organization more adaptable and open to beneficial change, and sustaining the organization’s adaptability to respond effectively to evolving technology, workforce, and public priorities.

Accompanying this report is NCHRP Web-Only Document 248: Research on Creating and Sustaining a Culture of Innovation for Departments of Transportation documents the research process and provides key guidance to implement the research produced in NCHRP Research Report 885.

  1. ×

    Welcome to OpenBook!

    You're looking at OpenBook,'s online reading room since 1999. Based on feedback from you, our users, we've made some improvements that make it easier than ever to read thousands of publications on our website.

    Do you want to take a quick tour of the OpenBook's features?

    No Thanks Take a Tour »
  2. ×

    Show this book's table of contents, where you can jump to any chapter by name.

    « Back Next »
  3. ×

    ...or use these buttons to go back to the previous chapter or skip to the next one.

    « Back Next »
  4. ×

    Jump up to the previous page or down to the next one. Also, you can type in a page number and press Enter to go directly to that page in the book.

    « Back Next »
  5. ×

    To search the entire text of this book, type in your search term here and press Enter.

    « Back Next »
  6. ×

    Share a link to this book page on your preferred social network or via email.

    « Back Next »
  7. ×

    View our suggested citation for this chapter.

    « Back Next »
  8. ×

    Ready to take your reading offline? Click here to buy this book in print or download it as a free PDF, if available.

    « Back Next »
Stay Connected!