Adopting a CSD/CSS Culture

Ensuring that the organization's culture is conducive to change is a basic requirement to successfully implement CSD/CSS.

Context sensitive design is a top down initiative. Where it has been successfully implemented throughout an organization, success can be attributed to leadership at the top of the organization. In Maryland, considered the originator of CSD/CSS, cultural change began with the Governor and was transferred to the DOT and State Highway Administration through the Director, Parker Williams. Similarly, in Utah, the Director of UDOT, Tom Warne, and in Kentucky, the Secretary of the Transportation Cabinet, James Codell, shared the vision and were thus able to translate that vision to staff and effect the necessary culture change.

The importance of having a culture conducive to CSD/CSS cannot be overstated. Culture is the sum of how employees in an organization expect to be treated, what they value, and how they conduct their business. Whenever significant change is introduced, one or more of these three elements of culture must change.

Organizational cultures can be supportive and positive, that is, they can help the organization deliver effective, efficient products and services in a manner that also inspires employees. Organizational cultures can also have the opposite characterization and impact. Whether a new process or approach is used depends on whether the existing staff within an agency embraces or rejects the change. Of all of the elements necessary for successful implementation of CSD/CSS, organizational acceptance and use is the most critical. This cultural readiness is the extent to which the culture is supportive and positive about the intended change.
Leadership within most organizations will recognize that implementing CSD/CSS requires a change in their organizational culture. This culture change is still aligned with the organizational capacity issues of people, process, and structure, but it applies the adaptation of people to a new way of conducting business. Change will generally need to occur in the following areas:

* Change in thinking
* Change in roles and responsibilities
* Change in work processes (in this case, the project development process)

Ensuring that the organization's culture is conducive to change is a basic requirement to successfully implement CSD/CSS. Among the key attributes of a conducive culture is the organization's focus on efficiently and effectively serving the customer's needs. Additionally, the organization must be driven by leaders who can articulate and inspire the need for excellence and can provide a means of moving toward the desired goal. Finally, the organization must be able to understand and analyze itself well enough to chart a course from its current approach to doing business to the new one.

"If you are a customer driven organization these concepts are logical."
Connecticut DOT staff engineer

A model CSD/CSS culture can be expressed simply as being customer focused, and environmental stewards, while retaining orientation as the efficient providers of transportation services.

Organizational-self-assessment is an important step in identifying how and where change efforts should be focused. Appendix contains a self-assessment process and tool that was used by consultants who worked with the Utah DOT in the CSD/CSS management organization efforts.

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