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The National Academies

NCHRP 20-24(81) [Completed]

Leading in Lean Times: Maximizing Resources in a Constrained Environment
[ NCHRP 20-24 (Administration of Highway and Transportation Agencies) ]

  Project Data
Funds: $200,000
Research Agency: ICF International
Principal Investigator: Hyun-A Park (Spy Pond Partners)
Effective Date: 9/27/2011
Completion Date: 6/27/2012

State departments of transportation (DOTs) increasingly are required to develop programs and projects, and to operate and maintain facilities and services with both reduced budgets and staff. For example, 21 states are reducing appropriations for transportation infrastructure programs in the current fiscal year. Several DOTs already have implemented reductions in force, staff furloughs, and substantial restructurings, and more are likely to do so.   Managing in such lean times calls for resourceful and imaginative leadership. Senior DOT officials seek strategic examples and role models as well as specific tactics and tools they can use to ensure that agency resources are effectively deployed to deliver the greatest possible benefit to their customers.
 
Leaders in other organizations have faced similar challenges. Pressures of global competition, technological innovation, shifting resource costs, and workforce evolution have given rise to the need to enhance productivity and to new organizational structures, procurement practices, compensation policies, and project management tools. Knowledge gained from documentation and analysis of experience from private sector enterprise and other public-sector organizations worldwide can inform DOT leaders.  The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) seeks to make such knowledge about leading in lean times available to senior DOT managers in formats that encourage thoughtful exchange among peers and creative transfer of useful lessons from practical experience. 
 
The objectives of this project were to (1) prepare a critical review of current research and experience regarding management tactics and specific tools and techniques leaders of large public and private organizations use in managing limited resources most effectively to achieve strategic business goals; and (2) plan, conduct, and document a workshop to present and discuss how DOT leaders can use such information to lead their agencies in lean times. 
 
The project entailed a review of literature and current research and practice in large enterprises to describe management tactics and specific tools and techniques leaders of such enterprises use in managing limited resources most effectively to achieve strategic business goals. The review was intended to present current thinking and case studies in such areas as resource acquisition and productivity-control techniques, work-flow streamlining, and data acquisition and information reporting internationally. A workshop was then planned and held to engage senior leaders from a number of DOTs with selected strategic management experts in a setting selected to facilitate thoughtful information exchange.
 
The workshop was held at the Collins Executive Education Center of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX, February 7-8, 2012.  The presentations used by speakers at the event may be seen by clicking here.  A summary report is available by clicking here.

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