What's been happening with the strategic plan?

Strategic-plan-update-for-blog-postAbout a year ago Iowa DOT’s management rolled out a new strategic plan. Since veteran DOTers have seen a variety of strategic plans over the years, some were skeptical that anything would come of this “new” way for the agency to measure and improve its processes.

So what has happened with the plan over the last year?

Once the overall strategic plan was developed, a team was assembled to come up with a work plan to tackle the first key initiative, performance management. The team met with management to gain a better understanding of what was expected of the team. They came away with the goal of creating a new performance management framework that would:

  • Provide more focus an alignment than current performance measurement activities.
  • Emphasize organization improvement.
  • Apply down to the work level, not to individual performance.
  • Not be punitive or used for investigation.
  • Have two audiences: internal and external.
  • Have communications and educational components.
  • Encourage a culture of active use.
  • Be understandable and presentable to new employees.

The team consisted of Mark Lowe, Motor Vehicle Division; John Hart, Maintenance; Matt Haubrich, Organizational Improvement; Corey Lorenz, Information Technology Division; Jon Makovec, Operations and Finance Division; Kate Murphy, Organizational Improvement; Dave Putz, Organizational Improvement; Vicki Stamper, Policy and Legislative Services; Annette Dunn, Information Technology Division; Alex Jansen, Vehicle and Motor Carrier Services; and Garrett Pedersen, Systems Planning.

The group studied various performance management models used by other organizations around the world. They settled on a preferred model known as the “cascading model.” This model uses measures to evaluate performance at one level of the organization, while relating to all other levels.

Pedersen said, “While we spent a lot of time trying to educate ourselves on how other entities approach performance management, at the end of the day we wanted to identify a model and process that, when implemented, would make the most sense for Iowa DOT given our structure, culture, and mission. Implementation will still be challenging, but I believe we succeeded in laying out something that will be a good fit and ultimately beneficial for Iowa DOT.”

Cascading model-01-01In the cascading model, the focus is on the ultimate desired outcomes or results, both vertically through the levels of the organization and horizontally though a specific process. The vertical alignment represents “doing the right things” and horizontal alignment represents “doing things the right way.”

The team produced an implementation work plan outlining details of the preferred cascading model and also defines the processes to initiate and implement the model agencywide.

Jansen said, “Information is really at the core of improving what we do and how we do it. The cascading model gives paths to follow, but the actual work of process improvement comes when we look at the available data and ask ourselves the question, ‘What does this information tell me and how can I use it do a better job?’”

So does this mean a big change is coming for every work unit at the Iowa DOT? Not really. As the group found, many work units are already doing many of things outlined in the model. In their report, the team notes internal case studies of the maintenance salt/labor dashboard and Motor Vehicle Division call center as examples of process that use both vertical and horizontal alignment to improve their processes.

As we move forward, an implementation team will further develop ideas on how work units can more effectively integrate performance management into their processes. However, that doesn’t mean that you need to wait. Everyone is encouraged to begin looking at our work – what we do, how we do it, and who we do it for. As you explore information about your work, consider how that information can be used and find ways to strategically make changes to improve the work you are doing. It’s a simple as that! Congratulations you have just completed your first steps towards performance management.

  Strategic Plan

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