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Colorado Department of Transportation and Federal Highways Administration Host 2017 Peer Exchange

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Clair Anderson & Meagan Brown, Process Improvement Interns
Oct. 12, 2017

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From Sept. 13 and 14, 2017, CDOT hosted a peer exchange with fellow departments of transportation (DOT) in Washington, North Carolina, Colorado, Illinois, Minnesota, Arizona, Iowa, California, and Texas to discuss their progress and approaches to the Federal Highway Administration's Transportation Performance Management (TPM).

"The purpose of this peer exchange is to break down the silos of excellence," said FHWA's Michael Nesbitt.

TPM uses system information to make investment and policy decisions to achieve national performance goals It can support DOT in explaining outcomes and identifying processes. A key element of the framework it uses to outline processes and areas of focus is data.

"Data has to be as good as your pavement; data is an asset," said Barb Cohn, CDOT's chief data officer. "If data is flawed, it's like a crack in your pavement. Data is our new infrastructure and digital fuel for the 21st century; it is one of our most strategic assets. It offers the promise of the potential—the promise of discovery."

Teams collect and analyze data to provide transparent documentation and, ultimately, clearer communication about how investments are made and resulting successes. It's also crucial in acquiring more funding. In the end, according to Hyun-A Park of Spy Pond Partners—CDOT's partner in its recent peer exchange—TPM is about getting results and demonstrating value.

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CDOT Peer Exchange Goals

Improve collaboration between DOT headquarter offices and field staff to:

  1. Clarify roles, responsibilities, transparency, and accountability in performance-based decisions.
  2. Identify and address gaps in delivering the TPM program.
  3. Assess and understand the agency's strengths and areas of opportunity regarding TPM.
  4. Develop action items agencies can take to improve TPM.
  5. Introduce and use FHWA TPM toolbox tools.
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Change Management

An integral part of a successful TPM is to drive results by applying change management—a process that uses tools to help employees through their organization's transition and design an optimal future state.

"Change is needed within an organization to survive as a business or to expand and grow as a department agency...and as the saying goes, 'Organizations don't change; people do'," said Michelle Malloy, CDOT's leader of Change Management Services. According to Malloy, change management focuses on the people side of change and ensures a higher success rate for change implementation.

Increasing communication was a recurring theme throughout the exchange, and the event encouraged a variety of methods of doing so, including having different DOT present on topics of expertise (i.e., Colorado and North Carolina presented on useful tools for implementing TPM). While people were talking and working through what change management would look like at their DOT, they could ask the attending subject matter experts for their advice and troubleshooting ideas on how they could use previously successful tools.

Attendees also engaged in structured communication. Different DOT employees were placed in groups together for thoughtful exchanges about each department's TPM development. The result was a powerful communication loop, allowing states to share laterally, and for the FHWA to receive their feedback. The exchange also was a great platform to directly communicate FHWA's goals and resources to states.

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This environment facilitated a wonderful space for benchmarking, which is vital to successful organizations. With stories from exceptional best practices to illuminating lessons learned, DOT employees from across the country filled the peer exchange with a wealth of useful information.

Want to learn more about Change Management at CDOT?
Check out our improvement efforts at the Office of Process Improvement’s website! Or, for CDOT employees, stop by the Change Hub on our Intranet!

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