Innovations Drive ITD
BOISE, ID For most of the last 100 years, there has been little incentive to change. Now, in the last 18 months, there have been more than 700,000 reasons to change.
Things were "good enough." But good is often the enemy of better and best.
There has been an Idaho Transportation Department since 1974. Before that, there was an Idaho Department of Highways, spanning most of the last century. Some innovations naturally evolved during those decades, but until about a year and a half ago, there was no concerted effort to encourage evolving and improving.
Simply put, the department agreed to try something new, different or smarter in order to produce something better for stakeholders - Gem State drivers and taxpayers. Innovation doesn't have to be groundbreaking or world changing it just needs to be driven by a desire to improve an existing product or service.
During the last fiscal year, ITD generated 124 ideas and implemented 70 innovations - saving an estimated $385,000 and 12,300 work hours. So far, the second year has shown a marked acceleration in ideas generated and submitted for implementation. There were 44 ideas implemented and more than $327,000 in savings so far in fiscal year 2016.
That totals 114 innovations and approximately $712,000 in the program's short history. The innovation funnel is wide open at ITD.
"To be the best and deliver on our mission, ITD is harnessing the innovative spirit of our more than 1,700 employees," said ITD Director Brian Ness. "Innovation is the most constructive way to change and get better. We do not reject ideas. Rather, we empower employees to look for innovation in all we do from basic, yet effective, process improvements to the most creative ideas."
Chief Administrative Officer Charlene McArthur leads the effort. She said it saves now, by saving operating money, and saves in the future, by helping to create a vibrant, encouraging workplace to attract and retain the next generation of high achieving.
One of ITD's strategic goals is to use innovation to improve customer experience or reduce costs. In fact, cost savings, customer-service improvement and impact to stakeholders is at the heart of ITD's innovative initiatives.
"Things don't always have to be the same as they always have been," said McArthur. "We can change the way things are - new possibilities and opportunities will appear and everything changes."