Business Center

Spotlight on Innovation: Norman Parra

By Tiffani Madle, Process Improvement Intern

July 26, 2018

Norman Parra

Norman Parra

Transportation Maintence-III
Region 5 (Southwest Colorado)

Norman Parra has been with the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) for 8 years and is currently a Transportation Maintenance-III in Region 5 which covers Southwest Colorado. Norman takes pride in finding solutions to problems and creating a safer work environment for others. In a recent interview with Norman, he describes his creative thinking process as well as what inspires him to innovate.

Interview with Norman Parra

What inspires you to innovate?

Norman’s inspiration for innovating comes from his desire to improve safety in the workplace. He explains: “...a lot of times...things can become safety issues, so it’s important to come up with easier, safer and more efficient ways to complete the task. For example, there was a truck that had a fixed lid with hydraulic hoses going through it, preventing access to the augers. The only way to wash the truck is to have those augers spinning so you can get the material out of there. It was nearly impossible to get those augers clean which can eventually lead to corrosion and damage to the equipment. I came up with the idea to pull off the lid, reroute the hoses, and put a screen over the augers. This makes it safe enough to access the area and safely clean it without causing any bodily injury while the augers are turning.”

“By creating a more efficient way to do something, you actually increase safety by reducing the amount of time employees are on the highway and in danger from traffic.”

In what ways have you encouraged your team to be more creative and innovative?

“When my team presents an issue to me, I like to brainstorm with them on how to fix the issue and get their gears going. I don’t see anything wrong with taking some time to fix the issue. I would rather they spend a couple of days building something then a couple of months on injury. If we can prevent any kind of injury, I am 100% for allowing them to take the time to make something safer rather than have the issue linger on because then someone could get hurt and we would be without that employee. It makes more sense to give them the time they need to create something safer.”

Why do you feel that innovation is important at CDOT?

According to Norman, “If there’s a safety issue we need to correct it. If there’s something we can do to improve safety and make for better efficiency, then we should do it. The quicker you do something, the more time you can save CDOT in the long run.” Innovation at CDOT is also important because “people can be recognized for their efforts which boosts self-esteem and builds morale. It motivates people to want to create more. If you keep people from being able to do that, efficiency, productivity, and safety start to decrease” Norman says.

Do you have any encouraging words for other CDOT innovators?

If there are any encouraging words that Norman can offer other fellow CDOT innovators it would be to “Just go for it! I want them to know that CDOT will give them the opportunity to work with that idea. If it’s a safety issue, don’t be afraid to come up with ideas and present it to someone who’s going to help support you. Being here at CDOT, I’ve had the opportunity through the Lean Everyday Ideas program to actually put some of these ideas to use.”

For questions or additional information, email Norman Parra at [email protected].

Learn more about successfully implemented Lean Everyday Ideas here.

Have a solution to a problem? Want to share your innovation? Submit your ideas here.