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19 Based on results of the literature review, case studies, and feedback from more than 300 trans- portation professionals, five building blocks forming the basis of an innovation culture at DOTs were identified. Those building blocks, detailed in this section, include Leadership, Communica- tion, Empowerment, Recognition, and Measurement. Some of the examples resulting from the case studies are indicated by the following icons throughout this section: S E C T I O N 4 Innovation Building Blocks 4.1 Leadership First Things FirstâFor Innovation to Take Root, Leadership Must Make a Visible Commitment With their words and actions, agency leaders at all levels must make a visible and regular commitment to innovation. The research teamâs case study interviews revealed that once an innovation culture is established, it will flow from the bottom up. But from the beginning, leadership must make it a priority before it will fully take root across the agency. Other build- ing blocks that make up innovation cultureâcommunication, empowerment, recognition, and measurementâare nearly impossible to implement if leadership is not on board and serving as a leading advocate for its importance. â¢ Do not try this alone. A culture can only be expressed through a group of people, and leaders need to set an example and empower others to play key a role in its cultivation. For innovation culture to be sustained, it must be closely tied to the organization. The following sections high- light how leaders can achieve a lasting impact that supports innovation, including examples from other innovative organizations. Make Innovation a Core Value in Strategic Planning â¢ Connect progress toward core goals like safety, mobility, and preservation with an ability to innovate. Innovation is one of four agency-wide values embedded at Caltrans in its 2015â20 Strategic Management Plan, alongside integrity, commitment, and teamwork (Brown et al. 2015). The plan is built around a mission and vision, together with five core goals and related objectives. The Caltrans Director and senior team see their leadership role in terms of linking the departmentâs core strategic direction to a push for innovation. MnDOT CALTRANS NDOT ITD FHWA
20 Guide to Creating and Sustaining a Culture of Innovation for Departments of Transportation â¢ Align innovation with agency strategic goals. Since joining ITD six years ago, the Director has established three strategic mission focus areas for the agency: safety, mobility, and economic growth and opportunity. Leadershipâs role at ITD in establishing an innovation culture emphasizes directing innovation toward ITDâs strategic goals. â¢ Wildly Important Goals (WIGs). WIGs are the central element to Sean Coveyâs The 4 Disciplines of Execution (McChesney et al. 2012), and this influential manage- ment approach has emerged as a key driver of innovation at MnDOT. It provides a simple, repeatable formula for executing on an organizationâs most important strategic priorities. The four disciplines include: â Focusing on the wildly important, â Acting on lead measures, â Keeping a compelling scoreboard, and â Creating a cadence of accountability. For an example of how MnDOT communicates WIGs to employees, see Figure 9. â¢ Give employees time to pursue innovation. In the case study survey, respondents cited being too busy managing day-to-day activities to make significant changes as the top obstacle to generating more innovation at their agencies. Tying innova- tion to the agencyâs strategic goals or priorities is a good way to ensure that employees recognize its importance and prioritize it accordingly in their work. However, depending on workloads, leaders may also need to look for ways to free up time for staff to implement innovative ideas. This could include shifting some tasks around among staff or simply setting up meetings devoted exclusively to giving employees time to work on innovative efforts. Do Not Let Perfect Get in The Way of Better Do not wait for the perfect innovation process to be in place before you get started. Instead, work constantly to close the gap. Initially, ITDâs Innovation Team would attempt to review and accept or reject all innovation ideas. But, since employees are constantly encouraged to submit their ideas, hundreds of ideas were received annually. Eventually, ITD streamlined the review process by allowing the employee or manager of the relevant group to implement the ideas that are within their authority and resource capability. Selection is now based primarily on proof of whether the idea will generate time and money savings or make processes more customer friendly. The innovation process should evolve as leaders learn what is working and what is not. The key is to get started learning those lessons. Walk the Innovation Talk Simply adding the word âinnovationâ in a strategic plan will not change a culture that is conservative, hierarchy driven, and focused on standard operating procedures. DOT CEOs like those at ITD and Caltrans make innovation a constant theme wherever and whenever they engage with personnel, and they invest in tools and processes to back up those words. Similarly, the concept of innovation is a business philosophy cornerstone at companies like Kiewit and Google. â¢ Spread the word. By labeling innovation as a core value and repeating this message frequently, the Caltrans Director and team make a clear public commitment from the top of the organi- zation. Their goal is to build an agency-wide environment in which all department personnel, external stakeholders, and the public are empowered to adopt an innovation mindset. As the In 2014, MnDOT launched its Wildly Important Goal (WIG) 1.0 called âEnhancing Financial Effectiveness,â which was designed to generate major improvements in financial management. It included the following sub-elements: budgeting by products and services, efficiencies, asset management, project management and information, and outreach. This slide shown in Figure 9 is from MnDOT Deputy Commissioner and Chief Engineer Sue Mulvihillâs presentation at the Mid- America Association of State Transportation Officials Subcommittee on Highway Transport (MAASTO SCOHT) Annual Fall Meeting in 2014. It illustrates how the goals are incorporated into outreach efforts.
Innovation Building Blocks 21 Director noted in launching Caltransâ STIC in 2015, âCaliforniaâs infrastructure is aging and our resources are increasingly becoming limited, so the need for innova- tion is essential.â â¢ Win over employees. An important role for leadership is getting all managers on board. The ITD Director often talks with employees about the importance of innovation during visits to ITD districts, and will visit one-on-one with managers to ensure they are aligned with the overall vision for innovation. â¢ Follow through. When employees develop ideas for how to solve challenges, leaders must acknowledge and act on the ideas to ensure they are implemented. Employees will lose interest quickly if no action results from their proposals. In general, the innovation culture at Google thrives because managers and leaders learn to say âyes, and . . .â to their teams rather than ânoâ or âbut.â This response to new ideas encourages employees to keep bringing new ideas forward and helps them fine tune ideas to best meet challenges. Remember âBottom Upâ Beats âTop-Downâ Occasionally, innovations are born in the CEO suite and pushed downward, but this is a limiting innovation paradigm. Leaders get more powerful results if they foster a bottom-up innovation process designed to inspire anyone, anywhere in the agency so that new ideas continually emerge organically and move forward for testing and implementation. Kiewit, ITD, and Caltrans all use digital crowdsourcing platforms for ideation across their agencies. At these agencies, leadership on innovation often emerges across the agency as personnel vote on their peersâ ideas and select the best for implementation. â¢ Harness the power of crowdsourcing. Caltrans uses a third-party digital platform called IdeaScale to help its 20,000 employees innovate. The IdeaScale-hosted website gives employees at any level a simple 24/7 way to submit, comment on, and vote for ideas. At Caltrans, the IdeaScale system is used to select innovations with the most votes for further evaluation and implementation. The idea of crowdsourcing innovation came in part from efforts to learn how innovation works at tech businesses in Californiaâs Silicon Valley. â¢ Innovate ITD! SharePoint Site. To make innovation easier, ITDâs Innovation Team created a web platform using SharePoint. The tool functions as a digital suggestion box. The form used for the idea submission requires submitters to quantify impacts in terms of hours or dollars Figure 9. Example of MnDOT WIG presentation. Innovation is the most constructive way to change and get better. We do not reject ideas. Rather, we empower employees to look for innovation in all we do from basic, yet effective, process improvements to the most creative ideas. â ITD Director, Brian Ness
22 Guide to Creating and Sustaining a Culture of Innovation for Departments of Transportation saved. An autoreply email goes to the person who submitted an idea through SharePoint, encouraging them to reach out to their innovation stewards. In addition to capturing ideas, the site tracks progress on the ideas once they are implemented and shares the results with other employees to encourage them to submit ideas as well. â¢ Times 7. Times 7 is a feature of the Innovate ITD! SharePoint site that allows employees to search ideas by district. This feature allows people in different districts to learn from each other and spread ideas across the state. Challenge Your Workforce to Innovate Senior leaders should pick broad challenges that are aligned with mission-critical business goals, and then get out of the way. Let employee teams own the process of finding solutions to challenges. The concept is to motivate, coach and empower, not micro-manage. â¢ Leaders set Googleâs strategic goals and let innovation follow. Leadershipâs approach at Google is to set broad strategic goals, then step back to let employees innovate to achieve them. Setting the right challenges for employees to focus on is an important leadership role that is instrumental in creating and sustaining Googleâs innovation culture. â¢ Use teams and give them challenges. At Kiewit, the innovation team selects challenges on a monthly, quarterly, and annual basis. Monthly challenges are generally small scale, while annual challenges are 4- to 6-month efforts led by teams of employees in the Kiewit leadership development academy. Establish an Innovation Team A leader cannot carry the torch for innovation alone, and innovation is never a single box on an org chart. Rather, it should emerge across all levels and areas in an organization. But innova- tion cannot penetrate deep into an organization without some level of dedicated staff resources. These resources include a central day-to-day team that can carry out other key strategies, such as communication, recognition, training, and measurement. It also needs a hand-picked group of mid-level or senior âchampionsâ who are early adopters with trusted status and a high level of energy. â¢ ITDâs innovation stewards. ITD established its âinnovation stewardsâ initiative in Octo- ber 2015 to help spread innovation throughout the department. Innovation stewards are CALTRANS
Innovation Building Blocks 23 often frontline staff who have the trust and respect of their peers and share a passion for being early adopters. They are often supervisors or managers outside of the senior leadership team. In addition to doing their day jobs, innovation stewards help other staff develop, submit, and implement innovation ideas. â¢ Kiewitâs Innovation Program Steering Committee. Kiewitâs Innovation Program Steering Committee guides the firmâs Innovation Program and sponsors innovation challenges posed to employees. The Steering Committee is made up of a handful of leaders, both inside and outside technology. The Steering Committee is active in sponsoring innovations. The innovation sponsor plays an important role in fund- ing innovations and removing barriers to implementation. The Innovation Team provides training to staff and has written much of the training material in house. Win Over the Workforce Use performance measurement to see where innovation is taking root in your orga- nization and where it is being resisted, then work to align employees in these areas. Break down the resisters! At Kiewit, innovation leaders are careful to build a tight case for their ideas so that detractors cannot resist innovation by pointing to poorly imple- mented or ineffective ideas. Measurement is used to prove that innovation works. â¢ Use Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) planning tool. Google finds that OKRs are a practical project management method (also used by Uber, Twitter, and LinkedIn) for defining and tracking work objectives and their outcomes. OKRs are an anchor for promoting innovative thinking. OKR planning ensures company, team, and personal direction are constantly aligned and can be tracked, which helps people move together in the right direction. OKRs are kept public in front of everyone so that teams move in one direction and knows what others are focusing on. Many tech companies, including Google, suggest that employees achieve about 70 percent of their OKRs each quarter. â¢ Monthly performance reports hold teams accountable. Kiewitâs Innovation Team reports monthly to the Innovation Steering Committee on several measures. Mea- sures include the number of innovations submitted through the Spigit, sponsoring implementation and funding for select innovations, and returns on implemented innovations. Measurement tracking is simple and effective. The Innovation Team uses software products to update and maintain the data, such as time savings, cost savings, or reduced environmental impact. To bake innovation into their culture, ITD has four strategic teams composed of senior leadership, one of which is the innovation team. There are five senior leaders on the innovation team, and four of the members rotate to other strategic teams every few years. One team member remains consistently part of the innovation team. It can be difficult when there is turnover in the team, and all the team members have full-time jobs outside of efforts with the innovation team. Additional support for innovation is provided by innovation stewards who are designated at work locations because ITD employees, rather than the innovation team, are seen as the main drivers of innovation. ITD What if I canât dedicate staff to push innovation efforts? Thatâs okay, you donât want to rely on one person or committee to push your innovation program forward. Rather, establish multiple levels of support for innovation efforts. The key to creating and sustaining a culture of innovation is for employees to approach their existing work with an eye to change the way they work, rather than think of innovation as an additional task.
24 Guide to Creating and Sustaining a Culture of Innovation for Departments of Transportation â¢ Make the case and get started now. If you wait for the perfect innovation process, you will never begin. It is essential to learn as you go and allow the process to evolve based on your agencyâs needs. The first step may be to begin communicating the importance of innovation and sharing examples of how it can be pursued. It will be much easier to generate buy-in in the long run if you spend time in the beginning demonstrating why innovation matters to employees. â¢ Assemble your innovation team. Innovative organizations rely on a team of people to champion the importance of innovation. To successfully permeate an agency, it is helpful to have a diverse set of talents and responsibilities represented on the team. This team will be crucial for delivering the message of why innovation matters and for developing a process for implementing more innovative efforts. Remember that for an innovation culture to take root, it will eventually need to flow from the bottom up, so it could be beneficial to include representatives of all leadership levels on the team. In the very beginning, it may be advanta- geous to start with a small, core group to establish buy-in among the team, and then expand the group as needed. â¢ Show support for employees whose innovative efforts were not successful. Nothing can stifle innovation more than a climate where employees think they will be penalized for trying something new that ultimately does not work. It is important for leaders to establish from the beginning that employees will be supported in their pursuits, regardless of the outcome. By recognizing employees for trying, regardless of outcome, leaders can help inspire other employees to explore new approaches. HOW TO GET STARTED WITH LEADERSHIP HOW TO SUSTAIN LEADERSHIP â¢ Take the politics out of innovation. In the research teamâs discussions with transportation officials, one of the most common reasons cited for why initiatives end was an administra- tion change or staff turnover. It is important to make sure that your innovation champions are not all political appointees or nearing retirement. If innovative efforts are viewed as a part of the organization, rather than tied to a particular administration or set of individuals, they are much more likely to endure. By institutionalizing innovation, making it âthe way we do business,â and tying an innovative culture to the strategic goals of the DOT, the culture can continue to innovative when new leadership arrives and possibly changes specific actions associated with the strategic plan. â¢ Results are hard to argue with, so share them broadly. It is important to communicate positive results broadly, both internally and externally. The more people see that progress being made, the more likely it will continue regardless of who is in charge. â¢ Document commitments for successors. It can be difficult to maintain progress during staff transitions. As leaders prepare to leave the DOT, it can be useful for leaders to document commitments in a short summary, briefing book, or personal letters to successors. â¢ Leadership turnover can be an opportunity to generate new energy. While staff turnover can be challenging, it also creates new opportunities. In many cases, people new to a position
Innovation Building Blocks 25 are more open to trying new approaches, which can be beneficial for an innovation culture. Seasoned innovators should reach out to new people to make sure they are aware of inno- vative efforts underway in the organization and encourage them to pursue their own ideas as well. â¢ Retain your innovation talent. If the top innovators constantly leave, it will be difficult to maintain an innovation culture. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) uses innovative tools to retain talent. Specifically, PennDOT allocates full-time quality coor- dinators to each of its eleven engineering districts to facilitate open lines of communica- tion and proactively identify problems across these districts. The department also allocates part-time quality coordinators to every central office bureau and has developed a system of cross-unit knowledge sharing. This system is housed in a Center for Performance Excellence, which focuses on employee development, knowledge sharing, and process improvement to retain highly-qualified workers. Three environmental monitoring surveys are used to assess the effectiveness of the organization. For additional information regarding leadership and innovation, see the literature review of NCHRP Web-Only Document 248. 4.2 Empowerment Empowerment Is the Heartbeat of Innovation Personal empowerment is the beating heart of an innovation culture and the foundation for implementing new ideas. In the most innovative organizations like Google and Amazon, new ideas are not the domain of the C-suite (senior executives). They steadily emerge from deep in the organization, where all employees are invested and authorized to act on ideas for getting their jobs done better, rather than passively following rules set from above. This can be a massive culture change within a DOT. The following sections provide examples for how agencies can empower employees to contribute their energy and creativity to building an innovation culture. Crowdsource Innovation â¢ Innovation Fund. The City of Los Angeles created its first ever Innovation Fund. The $1 million fund is designed to provide one-time funds to city departments to test new ideas that could make the city work better. The Innovation Fund supports projects that have not been tried in Los Angeles before, that increase efficiency, improve quality of life, and are feasible and measurable. The fund is managed by the City of Los Angeles Innovation and Performance Commission, which is dedicated to improving the responsiveness, efficiency, and quality of city services. The Commission makes recommendations on the use of the Inno- vation Fund and sponsors awards that recognize innovation within the city. All city employees and city commissioners can submit ideas through the web portal at http://innovate.lacity.org, which is displayed in Figure 10. â¢ U.S.DOT IdeaHub. More than 9,000 ideas have been submitted by U.S.DOT employees through its IdeaHub. Employees create, rate, discuss, and improve upon innovative ideas to help make the department a topflight 21st-century agency. IdeaHub is credited for making the department one of the best places to work in the federal government. â¢ Nebraskaâs Innovation Challenge. The Nebraska Department of Roads (NDOR) began an Innovation Challenge effort to encourage employees to submit innovative ideas, both big and small. âInnovation of the Yearâ award winners are selected by NDOR employees and receive a $500 prize. NDOR kept the Innovation Challenge process simple, as can be seen in Figure 11.
26 Guide to Creating and Sustaining a Culture of Innovation for Departments of Transportation Figure 10. Example of Innovation Fund website. Figure 11. Example of NDOR Innovation Challenge flyer.
Innovation Building Blocks 27 â¢ Ideation Platforms. Some organizations use a digital platforms to get the benefits of crowdsourcing innovation, either internally or with the public. Ideation is a new twist on the old âsuggestion boxâ that gives ideas more visibility and ensures they get discussed. They are typically enhanced through collaboration. More ideas mean more innovation, and digital platforms provide a way for ideas to get shared, critiqued, and implemented. â¢ North Dakotaâs Transportation Innovation Program. The North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDOT) launched a Transportation Innovation Program in 2015 to iden- tify and implement innovative solutions for transportation-related projects, processes, and products. Within one year, 13 ideas were implemented to improve the way the agency was delivering projects. Through the agencyâs website, www.dot.nd.gov, anyone can fill out a form and submit an idea for the Transportation Innovation Program. Applicants must submit a one-page executive summary, problem statement and proposed innovation, implementation approach, and estimated completion date. If known, applicants must submit the cost estimate and amount of funding requested. Offer Innovation Training In a workforce used to following orders, innovation does not happen automaticallyâ it requires formal training. Training is often built around âLeanâ type initiatives. At the core of Lean training is the practice of coaching workers to go out on a limb, rather than stay passive. But it also involves learning how to present ideas and evaluate them in terms of key metrics, like cost or time savings. â¢ Mentoring helps grow innovation skills. Kiewit builds innovation training into its own internal leadership academy development program, which trains about 200 people per year. Kiewit has also established relationships with outside venture capitalist entrepreneurs who help mentor Kiewitâs upcoming leaders as they go through the development process, which includes taking an innovation from idea to implementation over the course of a year. â¢ Leadership training that should feature innovation skill building. The Connecticut Department of Transportation (ConnDOT) offers an 18-month leadership training program for participants nominated by each of its five bureau chiefs. A particularly valuable part of the program is known as The Innovation Project, which requires participants to select a particular function of ConnDOT, research it, and present their findings. The projects are related to each participantâs job functions, with the goal of exploring alternative ways of doing things. ITD has found that an innovation culture gains momentum when employees see their ideas getting implemented. For example, employees joked about using quadcopter drones to inspect bridges, but were empowered to take the idea seriously. The idea submitted through âInnovate ITD!â was to use the emerging technology of unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly referred to as UAVs or drones, to inspect areas that would be dangerous or costly for a human inspector. In the two years since, the idea and the technology have grown to include not only bridge inspections, but also data gathering and monitoring of projects. About a year ago, the district engineers authorized a pilot project to look into the possibility of using UAVs for design surface gathering, bridge inspection, and construction inspection and documentation. ITD
28 Guide to Creating and Sustaining a Culture of Innovation for Departments of Transportation One employee in the Research Division, for example, studied better ways to dis- tribute information via streaming video and audio over the ConnDOT intranet. Other employees studied the alleviation of highway congestion by diverting truck traffic to rail and waterways, and another looked for alternative methods to manage snow and ice. â¢ Lean Six Sigma training. Caltrans is working to embed the principles and prac- tices of Lean Six Sigma (LSS) across its organization as part of its approach for empowering employees to innovate. LSS is a widely used collaborative, team-based, and data-driven business management philosophy for improving performance by systematically removing waste. Adoption of LSS requires extensive training with a belt-based system (akin to the belts received in martial arts training) showing mastery of certain skills. As of December 2015, 15 Caltrans employees were trained as LSS Green Belts, with a plan to add 10 additional Green Belts every year through 2020. A Caltrans Green Belt candidate is usually a top performer who embraces the opportunity to drive transformational improvements in their work area and has excellent leadership skills and technical abilities. The Green Belts are trained in the LSS tools and receive one-on-one mentoring from a trainer who is a Master Black Belt. â¢ Kiewitâs continuous innovation training. Targeted toward employees who have been with the company 10 to 12 years, this training program lasts several days and includes several different track options. One of the tracks focuses on innovation. The courses are offered several times per year, and about 200 to 350 employees receive the innovation track continuing education courses annually. Information covered in the courses includes different types of innovation styles, Lean method- ology, history of innovation, and phases of innovation. â¢ Denver Peak Academy. The Peak Academy trains and coaches employees at all levels to improve the way government works. Through innovation, employees do more with less and enhance the Denver city experience. For an overview of the different types of training programs Peak Academy offers, see Figure 12. Foster an âItâs Your Babyâ Attitude Without ownership, good ideas can easily die on the vine. DOTs must work to give ownership to idea generators by letting them prove the business case and then committing to implement where the case is proven. To avoid an âitâs not my babyâ attitude among employees, avoid a strict gatekeeper culture in which a small group anoints ideas. Nothing will kill an innovation program more quickly. Instead, foster an organic approach where individuals and teams are authorized to run with their ideas, and are held accountable to prove their merit. â¢ ITD âInnovation stewardsâ as ambassadors. ITD established its âinnovation stewardsâ ini- tiative in October 2015 to help spread innovation throughout the department. Innovation stewards are often frontline staff, or supervisors or managers outside of the senior leadership team, who have the trust and respect of their peers and share a passion for being early adopters. In addition to doing their day job, innovation stewards help other staff develop, submit, and implement innovation ideas. Encourage Workforce Teamwork In the tech sector, small, highly independent teams of employees drive innovation by moving quickly and changing direction as needed. Sometimes the work of these teams is in conflict or Figure 12 shows the different types of innovation training offered at the Denver Peak Academy. There are two levels of training, including Black Belt and Green Belt. The Black Belt curriculum focuses on Lean concepts, but also borrows from other methodologies, such as Six Sigma and Change Management. Black Belts must present three innovation ideas and are held accountable to complete and submit a certain number of innovations for their agency after taking the course. The Black Belt training is a five-day course. The Green Belt training is a four-hour course that provides a high- level summary of the Black Belt curriculum.
Innovation Building Blocks 29 overlaps, but this situation promotes healthy competition as innovations are ultimately judged on their merits. â¢ Problem-solving teams. Google is a workplace where a problem-solving mindset is highly prized. Groups of employees typically work in small teams on well-defined problems, and organizational hierarchy takes a back seat to the ability to solve problems. â¢ Management groups. MnDOT staff attend formal discipline-based group meetings where they brainstorm new ideas. Groups typically meet monthly and provide an opportunity to share innovation. Stimulate Competition In the Kiewit and Google case studies, healthy competition among personnel is a powerful driver of innovation. â¢ Spigit ideation platform. At Kiewit, the Spigit ideation platform provides a way for employees to track who is generating the best ideas. Spigit awards points to employees based on how many ideas and how many votes they submit. Kiewit employees are competitive about where they are in the innovation rankings, and the top point scorer is rewarded at the Annual Technology Summit with a plaque. â¢ Compensation and promotion. At Google, innovation is rewarded by compensation and promotion. These forces are powerful motivators for innovation. Always Say âYes, and . . .â Experienced leaders know it is impossible to police innovation. A more practical strategy is establish clean metrics where possible and let ideas stand or fall on their relative merits in terms of cost and time savings, customer satisfaction improvements, and alignment with mission-critical goals such as mobility, safety, or preservation. This approach is more Figure 12. Innovation training programs by Peak Academy.
30 Guide to Creating and Sustaining a Culture of Innovation for Departments of Transportation effective than trying to judge every idea and saying no to some, which shuts down innovation. Offer constructive criticism that rewards outside-the-box thinking and helps to enhance ideas that come forward. â¢ Show action on proposals to keep momentum. When employees develop ideas for how to solve challenges, leaders must acknowledge and act on the ideas to ensure they are imple- mented. Employees will lose interest quickly if no action results from their proposals for innovation. In general, the innovation culture at Google thrives because managers and leaders learn to say âyes, and . . .â to their teams rather than ânoâ or âbut.â This response to new ideas encourages employees to keep bringing new ideas forward and helps them fine tune ideas to best meet challenges. Iterate Quickly, Fail Fast Part of innovation is a risk of failure. An innovation culture requires changing attitudes about failure. In the tech world, teams move quickly to test new ideas, and move on if they do not work. Failure does not mean no accountabilityâit means testing and proving. Setting and reviewing OKRs quarterly helps employees establish a routine procedure for this process of testing and failing or succeeding fast. Susan Wojcicki, the CEO of Googleâs YouTube, in her book, Eight Pillars of Innovation, says âItâs okay to fail as long as you learn from your mistakes and correct them fast. Knowing that it is okay to fail can free you up to take risks. And the tech industry is so dynamic that the moment you stop taking risks is the moment you get left behind.â (Wojcicki n.d.). f Lesson Learned/Overcoming Barriers Employees seem to be losing their initial enthusiasm for the innovation effort. What should I do? An important question to ask is whether youâre micromanaging innovation. ITD staff submits ideas for innovation through a SharePoint site that can be seen throughout the whole organization. ITD leadership initially approved or disapproved the innovation ideas submitted by staff, which was a setback for the program. Approving ideas gave the impression that authority had been taken away from front-line management. Disapproving ideas squashed staff enthusiasm for participating in innovation. To overcome this setback, Innovate ITD ended the practice of approving and disapproving ideas submitted by staff. Instead, Innovate ITD acknowledges all innovations submitted with an email response and provides an acknowledgement ribbon to the employee or group of employees who submitted the idea. It is left to the staff and their immediate management whether or not to implement the innovation idea. Rather than rejecting an idea for improvement, there is an attitude of âyesâ and âhow can I help you build on your idea?â ITD
Innovation Building Blocks 31 Manage the Risk Management In the public sector, leaders are responsible for being good stewards of tax dollars, and it is critical to make sure that the organization is investing wisely in which ideas to pursue. Con- trol risk by piloting risky innovations first, so the costs of failure are contained. Training helps employees learn how to spot and refine ideas, so they are more likely to succeed rather than fail. While private-sector businesses can decide to move into or abandon mobility as a market, DOTs will continue to be responsible for the safety, planning, design, construction, operation, and maintenance of right-of-way, regardless of the pavement surface or type of vehicle. In this environment, incremental innovations or improvements can add up over time. Assessing and Managing Risk For a visualization of the process for assessing and managing risk, see Figure 13. â¢ Use iterative innovation to manage risk. Throughout Googleâs history, the company has followed a philosophy of making its new products âbeta launches,â then making rapid itera- tions as users describe what they want more (and less) of. Today, Google continues to listen carefully to user feedback after each launch and revises products based on feedback. The beauty of this approach, according to Google, is that you get real-world user feedback and never get too far from what the market wants. Perhaps users want features you were planning to add next . . . or maybe something completely different. â¢ Examine regulatory constraints first. With most ideas, the greatest risk is violation of state or federal regulations. At ITD, employees are encouraged to consider regulatory constraints as they determine implementation strategies for their ideas. Sometimes regulations prove to be less constraining than originally perceived. For example, ITD has successfully implemented an idea for line marker painting that was previously presumed to be outside regulatory require- ments for painting equipment. â¢ Remove restrictions when possible. In 2003, the Iowa legislature authorized the governor to designate six state agencies as charter agencies, including the departments of Human Services, Revenue, Natural Resources, and Corrections; the Iowa Veterans Home; and the Alcoholic Beverage Division. By becoming charter agencies, these agencies were allowed to waive any personnel rule (subject to Iowaâs collective bargaining agreement); hire staff at any pay grade without any employment cap or full-time employee limit; waive any administrative rule regarding procurement, fleet management, printing and copying, maintenance of build- ing and grounds, or information technology; carry over half of budgeted but unspent funds from one fiscal year into the next; and keep the proceeds from the sale or lease of capital assets. â By lifting these restrictions, agencies were expected to generate at least $15 million total in savings. They reported generating $22 million the first year and $20 million the next. Child welfare stays in shelter care decreased by 20 percent; the number of children with health coverage increased by 12 percent in FY05; wastewater construction permits were issued in 4.5 months, down from 28 months; and the rate of individual income tax refunds issued within 45 days improved from 75 percent to 94 percent. There has been some criticism regarding the need for these restrictions to be lifted to actually achieve these results. The chief deputy auditor told the Des Moines Register, âThere was no verification that what they reported resulted from the initiative or if it came from any other reason.â â Some executives have acknowledged that they could have achieved their positive results without becoming charter agencies. However, this process encouraged them to think differently and not feel constrained by bureaucratic restrictions, which generated more innovation and creative approaches. Thus, while the fiscal savings can be argued, the improvements that were realized in a less restrained, more innovative environment are demonstrable.
32 Guide to Creating and Sustaining a Culture of Innovation for Departments of Transportation Figure 13. Managing risk flowchart.
Innovation Building Blocks 33 â¢ Establish a process for submitting ideas. You do not need a fancy online portal to begin crowdsourcing ideas. The key is to solicit ideas from employees and demonstrate what type of information they need to include in their submissions. This could include a template that outlines the key factors you are looking for, such as how this approach would save money or improve customer service. When you are first starting out, the process could be as simple as having employees email ideas to their supervisors. In Florida, the inno- vative process began with the secretary of transportation asking employees to submit ideas, which resulted in over 1,200 submissions. A statewide âInnovators! Teamâ was then created to review the ideas, select the doable ideas, and push them forward for approval. The Innovators! Team later organized a process for submission of ideas, follow-through, and feedback. â¢ Give credit to highlight how the process is being fed from the bottom up. It is very impor- tant, especially in the beginning, to promote ideas that were recommended from someone other than leadership. It is much easier to generate momentum if employees see their ideas being implemented. Praising employees for their innovation efforts is also a great way to inspire other employees to submit ideas. HOW TO GET STARTED WITH EMPOWERMENT f Lesson Learned/Overcoming Barriers We have lots of ideas, but no one is implementing them. Whatâs wrong? One DOT relates their initial experience with innovation this way. An innovation campaign was launched, and ideas were solicited from all employees. The requirements for the innovation ideas were: 1) the agency had to be able to implement the idea, and 2) the idea had to save money or improve the customer experience at the DOT. The Office of Innovation managed the campaign, tracked the ideas coming in, and established a review committee to determine the winning ideas. However, when it came time to implement the ideas, it was difficult to determine who would spearhead the efforts, and the winning innovation ideas ultimately fizzled in implementation. As the case studies in Section 5 underscore, for larger innovations, such as adding or significantly altering a service provided to DOT customers, a team should be identified to drive the implementation process. Leadership should ensure the team is empowered and has the necessary resources. For smaller innovations, staff and leadership on the ground are expected to vet, implement, assess, and track the effectiveness those ideas. Thus, expecting and empowering employees to implement their ideas is key to creating and sustaining a culture of innovation.
34 Guide to Creating and Sustaining a Culture of Innovation for Departments of Transportation â¢ Provide training and emphasize its importance in generating new leaders. The lesson from the Kiewit and Google case studies was that ongoing training is a key ingredient in sustaining success. Training should be offered, and leaders should be encouraged to recommend training for employees they see as having innovative talents. â¢ Use competition to keep momentum. Innovation can become stifled if employees feel content where they are. A way to fight complacency is to encourage friendly competition among work units to see who can submit the most promising ideas or be the most efficient. A good way to do this is to publish the results by work unit to show which units are thriving and which may need to improve. Rewards could be given to the most innovative work units as part of the competition. â¢ Crowdsourcing needs to have a stated purpose or endpoint. There should be a defined point when ideas will be evaluated and selected for implementation. This timing closely ties with rewards and recognition. For example, there could be an annual contest for ideas to be sub- mitted, and then a deadline for when prizes will be awarded to the winners. If a contest is not an option, then clearly communicating which ideas have been selected and how they are performing can help maintain momentum. Open-ended or ongoing crowdsourcing without clearly defined goals or endpoints does not work well. It can lose energy and cause people to forget to participate. For additional information regarding empowerment and innovation, see the literature review of NCHRP Web-Only Document 248. 4.3 Communication Build Awareness and Motivation Constant communication keeps employees aware about the importance of innovation and motivated to innovate. This means frequently communicating stories about innovation across all channels, with a steady drumbeat of new content and regular reinforcement of the key concepts embedded in empowerment. In the research teamâs survey of more than 300 trans- portation officials, the top answer for âWhat would be most effective in establishing innova- tion culture?â was an agency-wide initiative that emphasizes the importance of innovation. It is impossible for an initiative to take root if no one knows about it. This section highlights the key elements of effective communication and provides examples of how other organizations have implemented them. Brand an Innovation Culture Give innovation a brand in your agency. Branding is a practice used to establish simple visual and word cues (logo, name, tag line) that become shorthand for a host of innovation activities and help embed awareness in employees. â¢ Innovate ITD! Creating an âInnovate ITD!â brand has been important to the success of ITDâs innovation efforts. With a distinctive logo and color palette, the Innovate ITD! brand has been incorporated in write-ups, newsletters, videos, emails, press releases, flyers, certifi- cates, award ribbons, and mugs. The branding helps raise awareness about Innovate ITD! The Innovate ITD! logo is provided in Figure 14. HOW TO SUSTAIN EMPOWERMENT
Innovation Building Blocks 35 â¢ Caltranâs âJust Do Itâ website. This internal, employee-only innovation crowdsourcing website is branded as âJust Do It.â â¢ Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) âStep Up.â When FDOT initially launched âStep Up,â its intent was to encourage all employees to be bold in thinking, generate innova- tive ideas, and share inspirational communication. As the initiative took root, the Step Up brand evolved to discuss how the agencyâs culture needed to be refined and why employee engagement is an essential element of innovation. Step Up offered a phased approach where employees were asked to meet new challenges at each stage. Key meetings were titled âStep Up I, Step Up II,â etc., to make sure that employees recognized these efforts were all connected to a common goal. Use Web Video Short video clips are an effective way to ensure employees see large and small innovation successes regularly celebrated, which helps boost motivation. It also serves as informal train- ing in what innovation looks like. Videos can be hosted on a YouTube channel and displayed prominently on the landing page of a DOTâs internal website. For examples of how DOTs utilize videos, see Figures 15 and 16. Figure 14. Example of Innovate ITD! logo. Video available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a4QcwQZPwcU Figure 15. MnDOT YouTube video of how innovation is being implemented.
36 Guide to Creating and Sustaining a Culture of Innovation for Departments of Transportation Publish Newsletters A regular print and/or digital newsletter gets the word out about innovation. Many DOT employees are not regularly at their desks checking the web, so print still has a place. â¢ ITDâs Transporter. Transporter is ITDâs internal digital newsletter and is published weekly. It is used regularly as a vehicle for stories about how innovations are implemented across the state. â¢ MnDOTâs Newsline. This weekly online newspaper is targeted to employees, but open to the public. Article topics include innovations, major projects, safety updates, and other relevant topics impacting MnDOT employees. â¢ FHWAâs Innovator. Published by the FHWA Center for Accelerating Innovation, this newsletter highlights advances in the implementation of innovative technologies and processes in the highway industry. For an example of the Innovator newsletter, see Figure 17. Provide Regular Reports to Governor/Commission Innovation can spur great gains in credibility with elected officials who oversee a DOT, so find ways to take innovation successes to audiences of elected officials. Hold Innovation I-Fairs Share innovations by holding annual fairs where participants learn about new innovations they can take home and implement. â¢ Caltrans I-fairs. For the last several years, individual Caltrans districts have orga- nized annual I-fairs that highlight innovations the district used to address a wide range of issues, including safety improvements, congestion reduction, efficient Full video available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oCoCoLLKNvs Figure 16. Caltransâ YouTube video to promote its innovation contest. Caltrans launched an innovation newsletter but had to put it on hold due to staffing issues. Caltrans intends to include an innovation newsletter as part of its ongoing program once they have staff on board to carry out the function. Staffing the coordination and sharing of innovation that is occurring across a large organization such as Caltrans is challenging.
Innovation Building Blocks 37 project-delivery acceleration, higher-quality projects requiring less maintenance, carbon footprint reduction, and response to climate change. Caltrans leadership attend innova- tion fairs, and presentations from I-fairs are available online, so all staff can stay abreast of industry innovations. â¢ Arizona Innovation Exchange. Meeting annually, the Arizona Department of Transporta- tion and other transportation professionals share the latest technology advancements and innovations in transportation at the Innovation Exchange. FHWA Figure 17. Example of the Innovator newsletter. HOW TO GET STARTED WITH COMMUNICATION â¢ Give your innovation effort a name. The idea of an innovation culture can be quite broad. Your communication efforts will be more effective if you name the effort so employees can see how all the innovative pursuits are connected. â¢ Give employees examples of what you mean. When it comes to effective communication, there is nothing more powerful than a relatable example. Look for a recent success your organization has experienced, and use that to explain to employees what you mean by being more innovative. Recognizing past examples can also be a way to ease the concerns of long-serving employees who may feel that a new innovative effort implies that they have not been innovative previously.
38 Guide to Creating and Sustaining a Culture of Innovation for Departments of Transportation â¢ Have multiple employees deliver the message. Leaders at all levels should communicate the importance of innovation. References to innovation should occur in internal and external presentations. The more broadly the message is delivered, the more likely it will endure. â¢ Find new ways to highlight innovation. While it is helpful to have a constant source of communication, such as a newsletter, the delivery can become stale over time. It is important to offer new forms of communication, such as videos, infographics, or social media campaigns that keep the audience engaged. For additional information regarding communication and innovation, see the literature review in NCHRP Web-Only Document 248. HOW TO SUSTAIN COMMUNICATION f Lesson Learned/Overcoming Barriers How can I effectively communicate with many offices across the state? While effective communication may take many forms, nothing beats having someone trained in innovation to support your innovation culture efforts in person over the long haul. ITD has many small offices with five or fewer staff and over a hundred physical locations spanning administrative buildings, maintenance sheds, aeronautics, mechanic shops, and ports of entry. It can be a challenge to reach these remote staff and encourage them to record their innovations in the Innovate ITD! system. Additional support for innovation is provided by innovation stewards who are designated at work locations because ITD employees are seen as the main drivers of innovation, rather than the innovation team. The innovation stewards at each location are trained in a variety of methods including Lean tools, design thinking, facilitation, and helping staff use the Innovate ITD! system to submit innovative ideas. ITD 4.4 Recognition Overcome Risk and Cement Culture The NCHRP Project 20-108 case study interviews and survey of more than 300 transportation officials demonstrated that employees need to feel their efforts are valued before they take the risk of trying something new. In fact, survey respondents cited rewarding employees or departments that achieved innovative results as one of the top reasons for how an innovative culture can be established. In addition to motivating employees, recognition is a great way to
Innovation Building Blocks 39 continually communicate the importance of innovation. By celebrating the agencyâs successes, it reinforces that innovation is a priority and a factor in an employeeâs advancement. In the private sector, companies can incentivize innovation by offering promotions or pay increases to employees who have successfully implemented innovative practices. This is often not an option in the public sector, and it can therefore be challenging to identify ways to reward employees for striving to be more innovative. However, a recent study by KRC Research found that six in ten employed Americans said that they were more motivated by recognition than money (Schwabel 2016). It is important to remember that there are many ways to show employees their efforts are valued that do not involve pay. Offer Monthly/Annual Awards From the start, develop a program that awards innovators for their work and use it to feed communication efforts. Use ribbons and prizes like âlunch with the directorâ or âbest of the bestâ annual awards highlighted at conferences or in annual reports. â¢ ITD âBest of the Bestâ Awards. Since 2014, the best innovations in each of seven catego- ries have been recognized at ITDâs annual Best of the Best Awards ceremony. The award is also showcased in videos, newsletters, and press releases. Local and state media sometimes pick up stories about top innovations at ITD. Innovations are nominated by ITD innovation stewards, and employees vote on nominated projects. A traveling trophy goes to the winner, with winnersâ names added to the trophy each year. For example of the Best of the Best video presentation, see Figure 18. â¢ Innovate ITD! Ribbons. An Innovate ITD! Ribbon is given to every employee who submits an idea through the ITD SharePoint site. If an idea is submitted by a team, every individual on the team is recognized with a ribbon. Staff commonly display ribbons around their workspace. In addition, small hat pins with the Innovate ITD! logo are given to all employees who have participated in an innovative effort throughout the year. The ITD director sends letters and certificates to each employee who successfully implemented an innovative idea. â¢ Caltrans âMedal of Valueâ Award. This award is not just for innovators, but it can be used to recognize top innovations and their creators annually. Figure 18. ITD YouTube video announcing 2015 Best of the Best Awards.
40 Guide to Creating and Sustaining a Culture of Innovation for Departments of Transportation â¢ Caltrans Road to Motivation guide. Caltrans has a Road to Motivation Guide that provides managers with ideas for how they can recognize employees for little cost. For an example of the Road to Motivation Guidebook, see Figure 19. â¢ MnDOTâs âAbove and Beyondâ Awards. MnDOT recognizes employees who exhibit excellence in dedication, innovation, creativity, cooperation, and customer service. â¢ MnDOTâs âPrinciples for Achievementâ Recognition. MnDOT is committed to recogniz- ing and rewarding the outstanding work of its employees through achievement awards and other recognition programs. Teams of employees are often recognized together. To achieve a consistent approach to employee recognition, the following principles have been developed to guide decision making relating to employee recognition: â Recipients receive rewards that range from $50 to $1,600 in value. â Recognition should be linked to the agencyâs and officeâs/districtâs mission, goals, and objectives. â Recognition decisions must be aligned with MnDOTâs strategic direction. â Rewards should not be substituted for a competitive salary plan, longevity pay, or supple- mental compensation. â Rewards are most effective when they are meaningful to the individual and are given as close to the actual activity as possible. â The recognition system communicates managementâs belief that employees are the agencyâs most valuable asset and that high-performing employees are fundamental to achieving organizational goals and making MnDOT a workplace of choice. â Recognition should be meaningful and should respect the preferences of the recipients. â Formal recognition programs beyond achievement awards should also be utilized (e.g., âHeroes of MnDOTâ and âAbove and Beyondâ awards). â There will always be informal, ongoing recognition and appreciation of outstanding work. â¢ Kiewit recognizes top innovative points earner. Kiewit utilizes Spigit, a third-party web por- tal where employees participating in an innovation challenge can submit ideas. Spigit awards Figure 19. The cover of Caltransâs Road to Motivation Guidebook.
Innovation Building Blocks 41 points to employees based on how many ideas and how many votes they submit. Employees are competitive about where they are in the innovation rankings, and the top point scorer is rewarded at the Annual Technology Summit with a plaque. At the same summit, updates on the returns on prior winnersâ innovations are provided. Promote Innovators in the Workforce In private-sector organizations, such as Google and Kiewit, innovation is rewarded with increasing responsibility and promotion. Kiewit has a leadership track for selected employees that features innovation prominently. However, not all innovators want increasing responsibil- ity and promotion. Other paths may be better suited for some innovators, such as more time to work on ideas they are passionate about or access to senior leaders to pitch new ideas. The City of Los Angeles has found several ways to recognize their top innovators. Each year, the reward for top innovators within the City of Los Angeles includes âLunch with the Mayor,â a feature on local TV, and a âshout-outââ on the DOTâs social media. The city also looks for ways to award its top innovators with career advancement. Implement Innovatorsâ Ideas It is not enough for leaders to champion the value of an innovation in an annual report, strategic plan, or other one-time event, and then move on. Employees must see evidence that leadership is paying attention and that their ideas are implemented. Employees will quickly tune out a âfakeâ initiative they do not believe moves innovations forward. â¢ ITDâs Transporter. The Transporter is ITDâs internal digital newsletter that is published weekly. This newsletter is used regularly as a vehicle for telling stories about how innovations are being implemented across the state. For an example of The Transporter, see Figure 20. Figure 20. Example of The Transporter newsletter. ITD
42 Guide to Creating and Sustaining a Culture of Innovation for Departments of Transportation â¢ Start small and build up. You do not need a formal awards system to start recognizing employees. The first step could be as simple as praising employees in meetings for their efforts. The important thing is for employees to recognize that their innovative efforts are noticed and appreciated. â¢ Identify your existing resources for promotion. If your organization has a monthly newsletter or blog that is distributed to employees, a good first step might be recognizing innovative efforts in these publications. If the innovation effort is successful, it might be worth issuing a news release so employees are recognized in the local press. When speaking to internal or external audiences, leaders should include the importance of innovation in their presentations. In internal settings, use the opportunity to recognize recent employee successes. â¢ Collaborate with others to determine what types of recognition will resonate most with your employees. It can be helpful to draw input from a variety of employees about what type of recognition might be most meaningful to them. This group, assembled to establish recog- nition tactics, can also be helpful down the road as you seek nominations for awards and for making sure that your selection criteria is inclusive for all employees. The more employees are motivated to be innovative, the more likely an innovative culture is to take root across your agency. Remember, it is important to make sure that a variety of employees can be recognized regardless of their leadership level. HOW TO GET STARTED WITH RECOGNITION HOW TO SUSTAIN RECOGNITION â¢ Pose innovation challenges to employees regularly. Organizations that innovate help keep their employees engaged by regularly posing new challenges in areas where change is desired. Innovation âchallengesâ help spur competition among employees to generate new ideas. It might be advantageous to offer an award for the most innovative work unit annually to motivate other work units who âlostâ to try to again next year. â¢ Make sure recognition is widely valued and distributed. If recognition is only being handed out by a small group, it will likely be lost during a staff transition or administration change. It is important that managers at all levels recognize their employees so that innova- tion continues, regardless of who is in charge. One way to support this is to establish a selec- tion committee composed of a diverse group of employees who are responsible for giving out top awards. The more an awards or recognition system is thought of as part of agency, rather than tied to an individual, the easier it will be to sustain. â¢ Let employees suggest ideas for new prizes. Recognition efforts can grow stale once employees have received them multiple times. To keep the reward system fresh, consider having employees offer up ideas for rewards. This approach can spark creativity and ensure that rewards resonate with employees. For additional information regarding recognition and innovation, see the literature review of NCHRP Web-Only Document 248.
Innovation Building Blocks 43 4.5 Measurement Measuring Results Fuels Improvement Once you have the basics masteredâleadership is engaged, employees are empowered, and communication is constantâit is important track the performance of your innovation culture. Performance measurement helps you see what works and what does not, and it feeds communication. CALTRANS f Lesson Learned/Overcoming Barriers What if all the ideas weâre receiving arenât worth rewarding? First, recognize the value of incremental innovations and second, help employees learn how to improve their ideas. Caltrans setup a webpage called âJust Do Itâ that lets staff log in and record innovations they have attempted at work. Part of the messaging at Caltrans reaffirms that innovation does not have to be a great invention. Innovation is something all employees can do in their office. Staff are expected to identify ways to improve their work, which can be something as simple as setting up a spreadsheet differently. One of the agencies interviewed for the Guidebook reported they were under- whelmed by the caliber of innovation ideas submitted by their staff. ITD asks the innovation stewards to help employees learn how to create a business plan for their ideas which has helped improve staff innovation. Also, working to create a âyes, and . . .â culture, where ideas are improved, rather than squashed, can help encourage staff to think more consistently about ways to improve the agency. MnDOT f Lesson Learned/Overcoming Barriers MnDOT has increased the quality of innovation ideas by providing more context for the submitters. MnDOTâs Research Services team now solicits new ideas for research implementation projects through an online platform called IdeaScale. In the past, the team would send an email with a submission form attached to everyone on their lists. Now, Research Services sends an email with a link to the IdeaScale website. Participants can see what ideas other people are posting, and they can also see the seven research categories in which MnDOT is looking for ideas. Because the research needs statements are better quality, the proposals have also improved. In the past, MnDOT would only get a handful of proposals that fully aligned with research needs.
44 Guide to Creating and Sustaining a Culture of Innovation for Departments of Transportation In the research teamâs survey of more than 300 transportation officials, 61 percent of respon- dents indicated that their organizations had no measures in place to track innovation. It can be difficult to determine what the proper metrics are, and there are always concerns about sharing the results, particularly if they are not impressive early in the process. However, metrics are important not only for weeding out the bad ideas, but for providing sound evidence as to why an innovation is needed. Track Cost, Time, and Customer Satisfaction At Google, measures are the basis for determining the success of an idea, but the measures are not prescriptive. Sometimes an ideaâs impact may be measured in terms of profit, and other measures may be customer satisfaction or user adoption. Mea- sures are used to judge the viability of ideas and determine which ones should move forward across organizational levels, and they should also be used to report on the impact of innovation. â¢ ITDâs Innovation Team. This team maintains an Excel-based tool that tracks the following measures: â Number of implemented ideas with hours saved, â Annualized hours saved from implemented innovations, â Number of implemented ideas with dollar savings, â Annualized dollars saved from implemented innovations, and â Number of implemented ideas with customer service improvement. â¢ Innovation Scorecards. Some divisions of ITD use an innovation scorecard, which is used to set targets each year for how many ideas employees think they can generate and how much money they can save the organization that year. Some employees find the scorecard helpful, while others feel the scorecard results in poorer quality ideas due to a focus on the quantity of ideas. â¢ LSS Measures. Caltrans measures progress in employee training and cost savings as part of the LSS program. â¢ Strategic Management Plan Measures. One of the strategic goals included in the Caltrans Strategic Management Plan is to âpromote a positive work environment and implement a management system to maximize accomplishments, encourage innovation and creativity, and ensure staff performance is aligned with Department and State strategic goals.â The measures associated with this goal that address innovation culture include: â Percent of Caltrans employees who agree, or strongly agree, that employees are encouraged to try new ideas and new ways of doing things to improve Caltransâwith a target to reach 75 percent by 2016 and maintain a level of at least at 75 percent through 2020. â Number of âSuperior Accomplishment Awardsâ and/or âMerit Awardsâ given each year that specifically recognize innovation and creativity. â Percent of employees with performance plans that emphasize innovation and creativity, and that support organizational goals. Track Number of Ideas and Who Is Submitting Them At ITD, more than 400 ideas are funneled through the submission process each year. Simply tracking the ideas submitted to your ideation platform will help leadership gauge the success of employee efforts and decide where to focus. Stats like these show involvement in the innovation program and help motivate employees. In the public sector, the key metrics to follow are cost, time, and customer satisfaction. It can be also be helpful to tie the impacts of innovation to your agencyâs strategic goals or broader public goals, such as safety, mobility, or state of good repair.
Innovation Building Blocks 45 Measuring employee engagement can encompass more than totals. Under Inno- vation and Learning, the Program tracks the number of people who are involved in the program, the number of people who are new to participating in the program, and the number of different offices that are involved in the program. FHWA recognizes that to sustain the program, it is important that innovative ideas come from new people and from people across different organizational elements. For large organizations, it could be important to track demographics to verify adequate diversity in the participants engaged in sustaining innovation. Report Out Do not be afraid to share the data internally and externally. Cost savings and effi- ciencies captured in metrics can be the âhard informationâ that convinces employees and external stakeholders that innovation is working. At Kiewit, the Innovation Team reports monthly to the Innovation Steering Committee on several measures. These measures include the number of innovations submitted through Spigit, sponsoring implementation and funding for select innovations, and returns on implemented innovations. Data are updated and maintained regularly by the Innovation Team, who use software products to track the returns of Kiewit innovations, such as time or cost savings, or reduced environmental impact. f Innovate ITD! participation rates: â¢ 2014: 5% of employees â¢ 2015: 15% of employees â¢ 2016: 38% of employees â¢ 2017: 50% of employees ITD HOW TO GET STARTED WITH MEASUREMENT â¢ Track the number of ideas presented until the metrics are fully established. It may take a while for your agency to determine what the appropriate metrics are for you. But you should try to track what you can right away so you can build momentum. Even if you just track the number of ideas that employees submitted, those data can be helpful to show growth. For example, if 10 ideas are presented the first year and 20 the next, you have a good indicator that the message is resonating with employees. â¢ Share the results publicly so stakeholders come to expect it. Reporting how innovation is being tracked as well as its results is a good way to ensure it will endure. For example, if legislators are used to seeing these data, they will likely come to expect or demand such data in the future. This will require your organization to continue to track these data. âUGH! The best way to kill innovation is to measure it all of the time.â â Study Focus Group Participant TRUE: Measures donât need to be prescriptive or elaborate. Look for simple ways to gauge progress and refine them over time.
46 Guide to Creating and Sustaining a Culture of Innovation for Departments of Transportation â¢ Incorporate innovation into employee performance reviews. If employees know they will be evaluated on their innovation efforts, they will continue to make those efforts a priority. It will also require documentation, which helps ensure that metrics are kept up. â¢ Track who is submitting ideas to make sure you have broad, diverse participation. It is important to have all work units and leadership levels contribute innovative ideas. Tracking the source of ideas will be beneficial to determining which work units may provide examples of best practices or need more support to offer ideas. For additional information regarding measurement and innovation, see the literature review of NCHRP Web-Only Document 248. HOW TO SUSTAIN MEASUREMENT