Culture change doesn't happen overnight

Dr. Tom DeCoster, a Professor Emeritus of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University, is no stranger to the Idaho Transportation Department and to nearly 20 transportation departments around the country.

He spoke extensively about what culture is, and how cultural change within a company or agency doesn’t happen overnight, but can take five to eight years to effectively turn around. ITD's cultural shift began in 2011 with the adoption of its strategic plan with its mission: Your Safety. Your Mobility. Your Economic Opportunity.

“Culture is less about what is written and more about what is believed,” DeCoster said.

Some of that culture includes following the SIMPLE practice: six practices and six wisdoms that come with it. Broken out, each letter of the word “simple” has its own meaning. “S” stands of setting expectations, “I” for inviting commitment, “M” is measuring results, “P” equals providing feedback, “L” is linking consequences and “E” is excellence.

DeCoster said successful employees and companies are ones that take ownership of their goals by putting them in writing. The creation of an action plan creates accountability not only on an individual basis, but department-wide.

Referring to culture as a set of experiences, DeCoster’s full presentation delved into what can both help and hinder an agency seeking to shift its culture. His full presentation is available here.

Published 8-22-14