1-3-Why Build Agency Capability?

Why Build Agency Capability?

The capability-building process described in this guidebook is intended to align processes, people and systems around a state DOT’s highest strategic objectives.

Capability Building and Transportation Agencies

In order to be successful, state DOTs must anticipate future changes, envision a future state for their agencies, and build the organizational capabilities that they will need to adapt to this future state. This guidebook is intended to help DOTs:

• Understand agency strengths and weaknesses
• Make strategic initiatives actionable
• Systematize innovation and continuous improvement, and
• Develop greater agility in the face of change forces

Understand and address agency strength and weaknesses

When faced with a new challenge, it is natural for an agency to assume that they can address it using its current processes, tools and skillsets. However, by their very nature, disruptive changes present new paradigms that require agencies to move into unfamiliar territory. Agencies may not have existing expertise or resources to draw upon – even if they have been leaders among their peers in the past. It is important to size up current strengths and weaknesses in light of anticipated changes.

Make strategic initiatives actionable

The capability-building process described in this guidebook is intended to align people, processes, and systems around a state DOT’s highest strategic objectives.
Strategic plans create the vision, the destination for staff to know where the agency is going. Capability building enables agencies to transform that vision into action by focusing energy and resources to carry out the plan. This could entail activities such as staff training or enhancing data management capabilities to improve the democratization of data for reporting and improving data-informed decision-making.

Develop greater agility in the face of change forces

State DOTs are faced with accelerating rates of technology-related changes that impact how people move from point A to point B, how transportation systems are operated and managed and how information is collected, stored and used. These changes directly impact infrastructure, provision and pricing of transportation services and communications networks.

Capability building is not a “one and done” endeavor. It is a process of ongoing transformation to address emerging challenges and opportunities. By building essential capabilities to adjust and adapt to technology and other change forces, transportation agencies can meet transportation needs today while improving their resilience and agility to respond more easily to future change forces they cannot even foresee.

Systematize Innovation and Continuous Improvement

Innovation is not innate to organizations – it must be deliberately cultivated. To adapt to change forces, innovation and continuous improvement must be built into the fabric of the agency and become part of its culture. A culture of continuous improvement creates an environment where staff are empowered and encouraged to make low risk changes to improve productivity and where IT systems are flexible enough to support these changes.

Innovation and continuous improvement are enablers for developing other capabilities. For instance, a DOT that is implementing an action plan to improve its capability to collaborate and coordinate with its partners might take an iterative approach to working with its MPOs. Part of its capability-building effort could include annual reviews of the health and qualitative effectiveness of the collaborative relationship. Adjustments could be made to address any gaps in collaboration based on that annual review process.