Action planning can be carried out for small changes or to have larger impacts on existing organizational structures, culture or strategy.Two approaches that can be taken in action planning for capability building are:

  • Incremental – small changes over time to the existing systems and processes
  • Transformational – systemic changes to an organization

Some of the considerations in deciding whether to use an incremental or transformational approach are shown in the table below.

Table 6.1 Action Planning Considerations

ScopeLocal scope – Isolated to one or just a few business areasAgency-wide
ScaleWill not require major changes to structure or systemsWill significantly change the agency culture, strategy and systems
Resources neededFew – small implementation team made up of process ownersMany – medium to large team needed across multiple business areas
Outreach requiredneededModerate- to high engagement needed, including strong leadership support
Time FrameShort-term but iterativeMid- to long-term
Other benefitsProvides a quick win as a foundation to future changesDrives culture change based on agency-wide changes to strategy

There are times when it is most appropriate to use an incremental approach, such as when there is a high risk associated with making wholesale structural or strategic changes across the organization. For example, a DOT operating in a severely constrained financial environment may not be in the best position to undertake a transformational action plan to restructure operations divisions and hire staff to focus on major infrastructure investments in disruptive technology. On the other hand, they may benefit from establishing a task force or small unit focused on developing capabilities to innovate and drive efficiency within the agency.

An incremental approach can often be achieved with a small pool of staff and financial resources, and can build the foundation for additional iterative implementation that could lead incrementally to major transformation over time.

When the capability building effort is critical across the agency, and there is low risk of making a systemic change, a transformational approach may be in order. For example, a state DOT faced with a serious security breach involving employees’ personal data may undertake an agency-wide data management initiative to assess and mitigate system damage and data loss, and build up capability to secure data in the future. This approach requires mobilization of a significant number of staff and coordination across multiple business areas. Furthermore, it cannot be achieved without active project management and leadership support. These topics are discussed in more detail in Step 5 of this chapter.