Business Center

Spotlight on Innovation: Zane Znamenacek

By Tiffani Madle, Process Improvement Intern

July 13, 2018

zane znamenacek

Zane Znamenacek

Traffic Engineer-III
Region 3 (Northwest Colorado)

Zane Znamenacek has been with the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) for 19 years and is currently a Traffic Engineer-III in Region 3 which covers the Grand Junction Area. He has been both an innovator and a contributor for several Lean Everyday Ideas including work area organization, an improved process to replace large equipment, a modified snow closure gate, and using a lean cleaning method for work areas. Zane takes pride in finding solutions to problems and understands the importance of innovation at CDOT. In a recent interview with Zane, he describes his creative thinking process as well as what inspires him to innovate.

Interview with Zane Znamenacek

What inspires you to innovate?

Zane’s main inspiration for innovating is that it can improve our daily jobs and make them less complicated. He says, “Ultimately if we can come up with something innovative, it’s going to make our jobs easier and allow us to do them better...Why would we not want that? If there’s a better way of doing things and it allows us to be more efficient and more effective, then we should do it.” According to Zane and the CDOT excellence value, improving is “part of our job” and is “something we should always be striving to do.” Improvement means getting more done with less effort.”

How have your ideas been received by others?

Two ideas that Zane has implemented into his daily work environment are the 5s and 6s methods. These organizational methods help keep work areas organized, clean, and safe. “Initially, there was some nervousness from folks regarding the 5s and 6s projects, I think there was some trepidation on their minds. Even though there was some resistance in the beginning, afterward, I had several people come up to me and say ‘that’s the best thing we’ve ever done,’ ‘we should do this all the time,’ and ‘we should do a spring cleaning every year.’ It was a classic scenario of [people being] not so sure at first, but really embracing it afterward and almost making it part of our culture on a yearly basis going forward.”

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

“If somebody brings forward an idea or something that they would like to work on, ...[I try] to be encouraging and [try] to allow the time and resources to pursue that idea. As much as possible, it’s just trying to empower those folks to follow up on their idea and help with the backfilling of whatever work they may not be able to get done because they’re trying to focus on pursuing their idea.” People may be more likely to follow through with more innovative ideas in the future if they have the proper support needed from their supervisor.

Are there any future ideas you working on or trying to implement?

“At the moment, I’m involved in a striping figure out better ways to provide striping on the highway. That’s something I’ve been working on and trying to figure out some creative solutions to. Another one that we are working on with the research branch is taking a look at our runaway truck ramps statewide and trying to figure out if there are better ways to construct, locate and maintain those. These projects are more at a statewide level and are exciting because they could lead to some new ways to do business for CDOT.”


For questions or additional information, email Zane Znamenacek 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.