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21st Century Operations Using 21st Century Technologies

Improving Transportation Systems Management and Operations – Capability Maturity Model Workshop White Paper – Culture

4. Relationships to Other Capability Dimensions

The workshops illuminated interdependencies among the Culture dimension and other dimensions of capability.

4.1 Synergy

As noted in Section 3.1, the synergies among the six TSM&O CMM dimensions are key defining characteristics of their critically. Each dimension is directly dependent on other specific dimensions to support improving capabilities. The three process dimensions are interdependent, but they, in turn, are also dependent on supportive institutional dimensions.

TSM&O Culture – technical understanding and business case, leadership and champions, outreach and program status – is the most difficult dimension to evaluate because it denotes values and attitudes rather than evidence of a distinct process of organizational structure. However, workshop discussions indicated that Culture was closely related to and synergistic with several other dimensions of capability, both technical and institutional. The legacy culture of most State DOTs reflects a public service, civil engineering, project-oriented, 9-to-5 orientation. Real-time systems operational management, however, has a different orientation built on strong systems engineering, network-level and information management focus, and a 24x7 commitment.

Participants, therefore, noted the impact of culture on other dimensions, as illustrated in Figure 4.1. Examples include:

  • The growing State DOT focus on performance supports development of measurement for systems management;
  • The pace of senior management’s understanding of the implications of TSM&O affects whether and how this is reflected in organizational change;
  • The level of interagency collaboration critical to many TSM&O applications is impacted by the level of senior management peer outreach; and
  • The adjustment of business processes to accommodate TSM&O requires agency-wide appreciation of the significance of systems operations.

As indicated by these examples, changes in culture involve an entire agency, and changes in many of the legacy arrangements and procedures, in turn, require aggressive top-down technical understanding and leadership.

Figure 4.1 Graph. Key Synergisms between Culture and Other Dimensions

Figure 4.1 is a circular graph with six points representing the six dimensions.

(Source: Cambridge Systematics, Inc. and Parsons Brinckerhoff.)

4.2 Span of Control

The workshops focused on middle management involved with TSM&O. This kind of staff is typically positioned at the third or fourth level within a State DOT central office, at the second or third level in DOT districts/regions, and is specialized staff in MPOs. These individuals have direct responsibility for visible TSM&O functions, such as TMC operations, incident management, ITS device maintenance, or snow and ice control on a day-to-day basis in real time. The introduction or enhancement of TSM&O considerations in agency policy is largely outside their direct spans of control. They lack the authority for facilitating many of the key process and organizational changes associated with increasing TSM&O capabilities that rests with second or first-level managers.

Given their mid-level status in the agency, some of the more effective TSM&O managers appear to exert management-like influence through their personal initiatives, agency knowledge, and long-standing relationships, rather than through formal authority or control of resources. In workshop discussions, these “champions” explicitly acknowledged that their influence over culture is largely indirect. In some cases, these managers have been able to capitalize on major planned special events or unplanned incidents to draw focus to the need for TSM&O improvements. This has permitted them to access additional resources or effect organization changes. There have also been a few cases where, through exposure or outside experience, top management has provided strong and visible leadership that has translated into organizational and process changes designed to support improved TSM&O.

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