(Above) ITD Director Brian Ness welcomed 170 employees to the department's third Leadership Summit. (Below) Treven Farrow welcomed one of the many "Bobs" to the lighthearted game show pitting the "Taters" against the "Spuds."

Third Leadership Summit focuses on building the culture for a better Idaho

Compelling speakers, thought-provoking group activities and even a game show were just part of the Idaho Transportation Department’s 2014 Leadership Summit.

Some 170 ITD employees from across the state attended the third agency summit, with its focus on “building the culture for a better Idaho,” on Aug. 12. Kicking off at 7:30 a.m., the day-long conference included a mix of speakers ranging from Ada County Sheriff Gary Raney, Boise State President Dr. Bob Kustra and Dr. Tom DeCoster, of Indiana University, all of whom focused on how every employee can develop and contribute to a better workplace culture.

ITD Director Brian Ness made a comedic appearance in a “Mission: Impossible” video, where he piloted a plane alongside Aeronautics Division Director Mike Pape, with its ultimate destination of achieving ITD’s goal of becoming the best transportation department in the nation.

Following his presentation, Ness highlighted milestones ITD has achieved in the past year through its restructuring efforts. Notably, he received a standing ovation when it came to the department being able to provide employees with increased compensation. Additionally, ITD has also boosted managerial and staffing efficiency, all without furloughs or layoffs, Ness said.

Jim Johnson, of Level Three Performance Solutions, and Jay Otto, of Montana State University, led summit attendees in an interactive discussion about ITD’s cultural change. The open forum provided employees with a venue to share how their past experiences (both positive and negative) at ITD have been redefined in recent years as the agency’s culture has shifted. An electronic polling tool was also used to gather insight about culture in the workplace.

During the afternoon hours, high-energy presentations from Sheriff Raney and Boise State Broncos Head Football Coach Bryan Harsin offered glimpses into how both have focused on building accountability in their subsequent departments whether at the Ada County Jail or on the football field. The timing of their insightful commentary flowed directly into training and development group exercises led by Treven Farrow and David Nichols, professional-development training specialists at ITD.

While part of the exercise included a lighthearted  game show hosted by Farrow, that pitted the Taters against the Spuds, the second half of the exercise included another opportunity for employees to share their experiences about improving culture and building a better workplace.

As the summit wound down, Director Ness shared some final thoughts, and wrapped with another video, a “sequel” to the earlier “Mission: Impossible” theme. The final message was that unlike the earlier “Mission: Impossible,” now, it is “Mission: Possible” and that yes, Idaho is moving toward becoming the best transportation department in the country.

Next week: More on Summit speakers

Published 8-15-14