Goal setting and strategy building in the Project Delivery Bureau

Leadership4Change logoIn late 2013, the Office of Location and Environment, like many DOT offices, was facing an uphill battle to achieve its mission with flat budgets and limited resources. “There were serious challenges,” said Scott Marler, environmental resources manager, “and we were trying to determine how best to meet them.”

Marler and Brad Hofer, location manager, were both early alums of the Leadership4CHANGE program. In 2014, they put their whole team together to work on developing strategies to achieve their combined goals for the next 12 to 18 months. Not wishing to waste time by reinventing the wheel, the OLE team aligned their overall goals and engaged all of the staff to reflect Management Team’s departmental strategic plan and the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) analysis.

Hofer emailed his staff, “I want each of you to have the opportunity to push your ideas/thoughts/visions for change forward and me to be able to support you in that effort … we in OLE have got a LOT of initiatives going on that can be better with more folks providing input into them.”

Marler, Hofer, and Jim Rost, OLE director, identified four primary goals:

  1. Improve communication and encourage integration.
  2. Improve technology and innovation.
  3. Deliver projects timely.
  4. Employee development and leadership.

Kate Murphy, a lean Six Sigma green belt in the Performance and Technology Division, facilitated multiple planning/work sessions last summer with OLE’s teams prioritizing strategies they identified to achieve the office’s primary goals, which are listed above. OLE volunteers were assigned to strategy teams and timelines were created for the teams. Strategies focused on either the officewide level with management participation or for specific OLE work teams.

Rost said “We highlighted the need for ongoing collaboration and team development. By working together and making strategic choices, we will be better positioned to achieve our goals.”

One of the strategies to improve communication and encourage integration was to hold quarterly all staff meetings. The meeting format was crafted to not only recognize employee achievements, but to also illustrate work processes and changing methods to foster cross training/learning with all of OLE’s employees.

Lessons learned from the OLE goals and strategy setting sessions include an appreciation for simple and straightforward language from the dedicated staff. Charles Bernhard, transportation engineer, said, “One of the strategies to achieve our goal for employee development was to have an ‘employee creed,’ that’s referred to as the ‘OLE Way.’” Bernhard noted, “The OLE Way lays out in simple and an easy to understand manner what is expected of each employee in OLE with the goal of helping to foster a more positive work environment. I have seen the OLE Way already have a positive effect in work relations. The group that put this strategy together, led by Gary Harris, transportation engineer specialist, deserves big kudos. The OLE Way will undoubtedly have a positive impact on our office environment for years to come.”

OLE staff continues to work in strategy teams to achieve their primary goals. Marler is reviewing the alignment with the DOT’s current strategic plan, and the goals are designed for updating every 12 months as strategies are measured to meet or exceed the primary goals. Prioritized strategies will advance as projects are completed during annual planning reviews by OLE teams.

Offices interested in team support, continuous improvement, process evaluation, and facilitation assistance can contact Kate Murphy at 515-237-3330 or [email protected]. 

Editor’s note: Scott Marler has recently left OLE to accept the position of director of the Office of Traffic Operations. Scott’s leadership and lessons learned through the OLE strategy process will help drive continued improvement as he moves on to this new leadership role.


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