Business Center

CDOT’s Office of Process Improvement Develops New Change Management Practitioners

By Quentin Boose, Process Improvement Intern
November 5, 2018

 17th Cohort of the 3-Day, Prosci Change Management Practitioner Course

Pictured: Participants and trainers from the 17th Cohort of the 3-Day, Prosci Change Management Practitioner Course.
Back Row (L to R): Deborah Nelson, Shay Reilly, Julia Anderson, Paula Lujan.
Front Row (L to R): Geneva Hooten, Brian Varrella, Suzanne Baca, Lorrie Damian, Quentin Boose, Wis Jacquecin, and Gary Vansuch


The Colorado Department of Transportation’s (CDOT) Office of Process Improvement (OPI) is at the forefront of change management, the people side of change. The OPI leads courses on how to effectively become stewards of change across CDOT and bring awareness and desire to the entirety of Colorado and all state agencies. The 17th cohort recently completed its three-day Prosci Change Management Practitioner Course on November 2. It brought together seven change management projects to be implemented in four different state agencies by nine individuals. The course was led by Geneva Hooten, Innovation and Improvement Lead at CDOT OPI, and Gary Vansuch, the Director of Process Improvement at CDOT.

Over the three days, participants learned how to neutralize the negative consequences of enacting change, such as managing resistance and the risks of working in a “change saturated” organization, while also learning how to effectively institute positive change to create fluid and efficient business advances. With these courses, CDOT’s OPI is attempting to cultivate change management specialists that are essential for project teams all around the state using the Prosci ADKAR (Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability, Reinforcement) model.

Brian Varrella, CDOT’s Region 4 Hydraulic Unit Lead, and part of the 17th cohort, is currently implementing 2D hydraulic analysis for design projects going to construction in the northeast corner of the state. Varrella’s largest change management limitation in leading CDOT through a transition to 2D analyses stems from a lack of awareness of the capabilities of available software. Many CDOT Hydraulic Units are still in the early stages of understanding the potential cost and time savings associated with 2D-informed pre-construction design of infrastructure in riverine environments. “We’re just scratching the surface of what we can achieve here,” expressed Varrella, “Everybody is learning at a pace that no one entity could keep up with.”
From the three-day change management course, Varrella learned about the importance of sponsorship and took away beneficial feedback from the cohort about how to refine a pitch for implementation of the software across CDOT. “The most beneficial tool I learned during the class was the sponsorship assessment,” Varrella stated, “After working through the project charter with my sponsor, I knew I had support from the top. From there, it was easy to get on the Regional Transportation Director’s meeting agenda so I could make my pitch to apply this incredible software to save time and money during pre-construction design scoping.” At the end of the three-day course, participants are required to give a presentation on the next steps in their change management project. “The feedback  I received from my colleagues was invaluable,” Varrella continued, “It was the most helpful thing I took away from the three days.”

Change management practices are not only used for technical, full scale, engineering efforts; they are also vital in organizational changes as well. Lorrie Damian, a Program Assistant at Colorado’s Department of Human Services (CDHS), Office of Early Childhood (OEC) is applying her skills learned in the course to optimize the Program Assistant Role in the Office of Early Childhood. Her team found through data analysis that program assistants were performing too many extraneous duties as assigned -- up to 55% of the time! During the change management course, Lorrie was able to “view the project through a change management lens. We recognized the need to cast a wider net to incorporate additional training needs to increase knowledge.” she said. “Although I have consistently applied change management concepts throughout my professional career, this course has afforded me the opportunity to view the concepts in a logical manner which allowed me to complete the puzzle.”  Julia Anderson, CDHS Office of Early Childhood Communications Specialist, is another project team member who had the opportunity to take a deeper dive into change management methodology. Together, they learned how integrating Change Management with Project Management is an essential component that should be applied to program objectives.

. The three-day course taught participants from a wide variety of state agencies and projects the valuable skills needed to work any problem they sought to fix, demonstrating the broad utility of change management best practices.

What happens when you have a great idea for a project, but it seems like a huge endeavor for the organization to adopt it? Enacting change management strategies can increase project success from 15% to 94%. The skills learned in the half day, full day, or three-day classes establish foundations and develop tools for graduates to utilize when change projects are in effect. CDOT’s Office of Process Improvement invites you to attend a class and see how leveraging the people side of change can improve your team's project performance and increase change competency. Please contact the Office of Process Improvement at [email protected] for more information or to register for a class.

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