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2 1.1 Your Guide to Innovation This guide provides practical pointers for transportation agencies that want to build a thriving innovation ethos over the long termâone that can withstand the regular changes in leaderÂ ship and management styles that occur in many DOTs. It provides tactics that encourage DOT employees to remain inspired and empowered to innovate. 1.2 Five Essential Building Blocks The guide introduces the following five themes that are necessary to build and sustain a culture of innovation. These themes are applicable to any public or private organization that seeks to embrace innovation, but this guide is particularly focused on the unique challenges government transportation agencies may encounter as they implement this type of cultural change. 1. Leadership A persistent culture of innovation depends on strong leadership that establishes innovation as a core value throughout an organization. Top leaders must demonstrate their support through steady engagement of all staff. For DOTs, although new leadership can provide a source of new energy, it can be difficult to maintain a consistent leadership message focused on innovation when CEOs turn over frequently for a variety of political and economic reasons. To address this challenge, this guide stresses the importance of establishing innovation leadership in multiple S E C T I O N 1 Your Guide to Innovationâ Introduction Build more than a list of good ideas; build a culture that regards innovation as the responsibility of employees at all levels and continually seeks positive change for employees and customers.
Your Guide to InnovationâIntroduction 3 levels of the organization. It starts at the top with the CEO, but also actively engages career managers and âchampionsâ at all levels of responsibility who have a passion for innovation and can lead their peers or subordinates. This approach reinforces the idea that leadership is a part of everyoneâs job description. 2. Empowerment Innovation means change, and in the public sector, changes can often be seen as creating unacceptable exposure to risk, which can be a huge roadblock to innovation. The goal of empowerment is to equip every employee with the channels and knowledge they need to effiÂ ciently propose and evaluate their own or anotherâs ideas in terms of costs, benefits, and likeÂ lihood of success BEFORE moving forward. For DOTs, where a traditional chain of command often prevails, employees may be unaccustomed to the responsibility of evaluating their own or anotherâs ideas in terms of costÂeffectiveness, so they may find the concept of empowerment new, or at least a little uncomfortable. This guide highlights tools DOTs have used to tackle this challenge, such as âinnovation jams,â competitions, social media, or crowdsourced ideation platforms. Using these tools regularly helps stimulate constructive criticism of ideas and sustains a mindset among employees that innovation is an expectation for DOT employees at all levels. 3. Communication Branding and constant communication keep employees informed and reminded about why and how an organization has embraced innovation. To be effective, organizations must find affordable and effective ways to communicate stories about innovation across multiple chanÂ nels. This steady groundswell of new content and regular reinforcement captures and keeps employeesâ attention in a world full of distractions, and reinforces the message that employees have leadershipâs blessing to make innovation a priority. For DOTs, capturing attention can be particularly hard when resources are stretched thin and employees are focused on making deadÂ lines and meeting the publicâs high expectations. In fact, in a survey conducted for development of this guide, 48% of respondents said that the time needed to manage dayÂtoÂday activities was the biggest obstacle to making significant changes in their agency. That score was more than twice as high as any other answer. This guide focuses on creative and practical ways to draw attention to the importance of innovation, and to frequently remind employees that new ideas are valued in a transportation agency. 4. Recognition Employees who see that efforts to implement good ideas are rewarded are more likely to âgive it a goâ themselves. Frequent and timely recognition is a powerful way to motivate other employees to try to be more innovative. For DOTs, challenges come with tight budgets and a strong desire to be good stewards of public funds. Some DOTs provide financial incentives, but this guide explains why recognition does not need to be monetary to be effective. And it highlights some of the creative ways that organizations, including DOTs, have kept innovation programs flowing with a steady stream of recognition. 5. Measurement Organizations seeking to sustain a culture of innovation routinely stress the importance of finding simple ways to measure the pace and the impact of innovation. Routine (monthly, quarterly, or annual) tracking and communication of the pace of innovation help keep employees engaged and motivated and can increase credibility with stakeholders or the
4 Guide to Creating and Sustaining a Culture of Innovation for Departments of Transportation public. Finding ways to measure the impact of innovation in terms of time and cost savings is even more effective as a motivation for sustaining a culture of innovation because it helps everyone see exactly why innovation generates positive results. For DOTs, the movement toward performanceÂbased management should extend to the way new ideas are evaluated and selected for implementation. This guide provides examples and resources for measuring the performance of innovative ideas, including three elements that are familiar to any DOT: cost, time, and customer satisfaction. 1.3 Guidance Grounded in Research The principles described in the guide are the product of a research project coorÂ dinated by the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP), titled NCHRP Project 20Â108, âGuide to Sustaining a Culture of Innovation in DepartÂ ments of Transportation.â In addition to this guidance document, a final research report entitled NCHRP Web-Only Document 248: Part BâSupporting Research for the Guide to Creating and Sustaining a Culture of Innovation (NCHRP Web-Only Document 248) documenting the research has been prepared. The main sources of research and information in NCHRP Web-Only Document 248 include: â¢ Literature Review. The research team reviewed more than 50 publications, and the full literature review is available in Section 3 of NCHRP Web-Only Document 248. â¢ Surveys. More than 300 people responded to the electronic survey. The overÂ whelming majority of respondents (96%) who answered the demographic questions indicated that they are employed by transportation agencies. The complete survey results are available in Section 4 of NCHRP Web-Only Document 248. â¢ 20-108 Innovation Lab. In a unique approach for NCHRP, the research team launched an Innovation Lab website (www.transportationlab.org) and app to allow users to review and provide input on the research as it unfolded. For an overview of the research process and the documents that are presented, see Table 1. 1.4 A Resource for All DOTs: How to Use This Guide This guide can be helpful tool for DOTs that are interested in promoting innovation in their organization, regardless of their size, budget, or previous efforts in this area. The content is based on principles that are applicable to all organizations, whether they are just beginning this process or have an existing program they would like to keep relevant and exciting for their âDo I have to carry the full load of innovation?â No, innovation can be led across all levels of responsibilityâin fact, this guide stresses the importance of establishing innovation leadership in multiple levels of the organization. ? Step Research Process Document in Which Results Are Presented Step 1 Conduct Literature Review NCHRP Web-Only Document 248 Step 2 Launch Innovation Lab to gather additional input and examples of innovation NCHRP Research Report 885: Guide to Creating and Sustaining a Culture of Innovation. . . Step 3 Conduct Case Study Survey NCHRP Web-Only Document 248 Step 4 Conduct Case Studies NCHRP Research Report 885 Step 5 Develop Guidance, including Innovation 101, self-assessment and building blocks NCHRP Research Report 885 Step 6 Validate Guide via DOT focus groups NCHRP Web-Only Document 248 Step 7 Identify Strategies to implement and build upon the research NCHRP Web-Only Document 248 Table 1. Research process and document organization.
Your Guide to InnovationâIntroduction 5 employees and customers. The guide has been divided into the following sections that will help DOTs find content that best suits their unique needs: â¢ Self-Assessment: This section walks DOTs through a series of questions that help them think about the status of current innovation efforts in their organizaÂ tion. The process assigns an overall âscoreâ that indicates the relative maturity of the DOTâs innovation culture and can help prioritize areas for improvement. By completing the selfÂassessment, the reader will have a good indication of which building blocks will be most helpful to his or her organization. â¢ Innovation 101: This section defines what a culture of innovation is and explains how it applies to the public sector. It identifies those groups most responsible for innovation and outlines behaviors closely linked to creating and sustaining a culture of innovation. â¢ Building Blocks: This section is organized around five principles of buildÂ ing and sustaining a culture of innovation: leadership, communication, empowerment, recognition, and measurement. The content gives DOTs practical advice and realÂworld examples of innovation in both the public and private sectors. â¢ Case Study Interviews: The research team interviewed: â Idaho Transportation Department (ITD), a small DOT; â Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT), a mediumÂsized DOT; â Caltrans, a large DOT; â Kiewit Corporation, which offers engineering and construction services familiar to DOTs; â Google, which is globally recognized as a leader in innovation; and â The City of Los Angeles, which was selected to offer lessons from an innovative public agency outside of transportation. The case study summary is available in Section 5 of NCHRP Web-Only Document 248. This guide is an important tool for DOTs that see innovation as an integral part of their organizationâs success and recognize the value of fresh perspectives and creative solutions. But it will do more than help them build a list of good ideas. It will help them build a culture that regards innovation as the responsibility of employees at all levels and one that continually seeks positive change for its employees and its customers. 1 2 3