Idaho Transportation Department
Idaho Transportation Department Paves The Innovation Fast Lane
The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) is responsible for the state’s transportation infrastructure. ITD manages ongoing highway construction, operations, maintenance, and plans for the future needs of Idaho and its citizens. ITD includes the Highway Division that oversees the state highways and bridges. The department has approximately 1,650 employees spread among six regions. Each region has a board member appointed by the governor for a term of six years. A Chairman oversees the legislatively appointed 6 member board which provides direction for the department.
In February 2011, ITD Director, Brian Ness, wanted to create a results-focused work culture that would produce an effective and accountable state government. He wanted ITD to operate in a more business-like manner and address budget limitations by empowering employees to find cost-effective solutions to everyday problems and eliminate organizational waste in every area possible. The executive team adopted four strategies that included an employee-driven innovation strategy that required ITD personnel to learn and apply the tools and techniques of Operational Excellence to succeed.
Char McArthur, the Chief Administrative Officer at ITD, sought help in 2016 from the Operational Excellence (OE) professionals at Idaho’s TechHelp, a member of the MEP National Network™. The TechHelp OE team, along with ITD Continuous Improvement professionals first defined a training road map for leaders within the agency that listed 10 major areas of focus. Phase one was for the OE Team to consult/train senior ITD leaders in using Lean methodologies to identify problems and opportunities that could be addressed by ITD’s Rapid Innovation Teams.
In phase two, the TechHelp Operational Excellence team cascaded the Principles of Lean throughout the organization to over 150 ITD leaders and potential leaders. TechHelp trained ten teams from various business units and regions in Lean tools. The OE team worked closely with ITD Leadership to create a culture of continuous improvement among participants. Each team was given a sizable organizational problem or opportunity and was asked to find and implement a solution given time and resource constraints. Each team consisted of a facilitator, two champions (designated senior leadership team members), and a TechHelp coach. The facilitator and champions provided tools, discussions, and suggestions that helped teams arrive at effective decisions. As coaches, TechHelp OE specialists guided team members on how to apply Lean tools and processes and how to facilitate teamwork.
Under the leadership of Ness and McArthur, TechHelp worked with ITD to create an employee-driven innovation program that as of Dec 31, 2020, has implemented more than 1169 innovations, saved nearly $10.8 million, created 678 customer-service improvements, provided Lean Training to teams (more than 150) across the organization, and saved about 231,270 contractor and employee hours (published by ITD). The department was recognized in 2016 and 2019 by the Idaho Technology Council as a finalist for Innovative Company of the Year.
Cost Savings: $10.8 Million
Retained Jobs: 400
Culture: Empowered ITD employees and put forward innovative improvement opportunities.
Improved Productivity: Team members learned how to apply Lean tools and processes, improving organizational efficiency.
“TechHelp has the best relationship skills! They were relatable with all groups in our organization from our boots on the ground to our office workers who answer phones to our financial managers to our executives. We appreciated their down-to-earth style.”
Continuous Improvement Facilitator / Business Analyst