Skip Navigation

Practical Solutions: Practical Decision Making

What is practical decision making?

WSDOT is making agency investment and operating decisions based on balancing transportation, community, economic and land use needs within legal and budgetary constraints. We do this by assuring (click through the tabs to discover):


Practical Solutions is understood

How do we measure that Practical Solutions is understood?

WSDOT is identifying internal and external communication and outreach needs to achieve a common understanding of Practical Solutions and how to implement it.

With Practical Solutions, decision making focuses on the maximum benefit to the system, rather than the maximum benefit to an individual activity or project. The goal is to allow more needs to be addressed system wide by reducing spending on lesser priority items on each project. The expectation is that decision making, at both the project and activity level, will be sustainable and cost effective, in support of our economy, environment, and communities.

Image of Practical Decision Making Core Principles A key step in the adoption of Practical Solutions as a way of doing business is to make sure internal and external stakeholders understand the concept. To that end, WSDOT leadership is working to create a common understanding, beginning with training and outreach to our employees. You can read more about Practical Solutions training by clicking on the talent development tile of our dashboard or by following this link (Workforce development: Talent development)

Another way WSDOT is ensuring Practical Solutions is understood is through the development of a Practical Solutions implementation plan that addresses internal and external stakeholder needs, including strategies for outreach and engagement.

We survey employees annually. In 2018, 63% of employees responded positively to the statement “I understand our strategic plan goals of Inclusion, Workforce Development and Practical Solutions. The graph below illustrates the percentage of employees who understand the strategic plan goals.


Progress     Target    
2018
63%  Arrow to right  Target under development Baseline

How will we select a target?

WSDOT has established a baseline through the employee survey by identifying the percentage of employees who understand the strategic plan goals. We will continue to engage employees through trainings, outreach and communication. Throughout the engagement efforts, we will examine whether these strategies increase the overall understanding of Practical Solutions and the other goal areas.

More about Practical Solutions being understood

Why is practical decision making a priority?

Practical decision making is an important element of Practical Solutions as WSDOT begins to shift thinking from how we address a potential solution to why we address it. The discussions may be difficult, but the answers will provide the most benefit to the system. Practical Solutions is a performance-based approach to transportation decision making. This data-driven approach uses tools and performance measures to seek lower-cost approaches and efficiencies in operating highways; ferries; transit and rail; to reduce travel demand to save money and to reduce the need for building costly new infrastructure expansion.

How are we doing?

WSDOT, like other state departments of transportation, is increasingly challenged with delivering system performance, mobility and safety, within finite resources. WSDOT is one of a handful of state departments of transportation incorporating Practical Solutions as a way of doing business (the others are Pennsylvania, Missouri, Oregon, Kentucky, Tennessee, Colorado, California and Hawaii). The effort is so fundamental to WSDOT that Practical Solutions has become one of the three goals of our strategic plan.

In 2018, WSDOT established definitions and strategies around the strategic goal areas. Part of this work included employee engagement efforts to increase awareness and understanding of the agency’s strategic direction. The 2018 employee engagement survey indicated that 63% of the 4,890 respondents understand the agency’s strategic plan goals.

What are we working on?

WSDOT is delivering Practical Solutions implementation through a plan that addresses internal and external stakeholder needs, including strategies for outreach and engagement. Agency efforts are underway this winter and spring to further the understanding of Practical Solutions among employees, bringing a Practical Solutions “road show” to the agency’s six regions, its Urban Mobility and Access Organization, Ferries and more.

Useful information

Top of page



Decisions are driven to the lowest level

How do we measure decisions are driven to the lowest level?

WSDOT is driving decisions to the lowest possible level of the organization through policies and guidance, thereby empowering employees to honor stakeholder commitments. WSDOT is achieving this through the development of a decision making process. Our goal is give individuals the latitude to adjust their decision making process within the scope of overarching policies and guidance by January 2019.


Progress    
Decision making process defined –
check back in January 2019.
Under Development status icon
Under development

More about decisions driven to the lowest level

Why is practical decision making a priority?

Practical decision making is an important element of Practical Solutions as WSDOT begins to shift thinking from how we address a potential solution to why we address it. The discussions may be difficult, but the answers will provide the most benefit to the system. Practical Solutions is a performance-based approach to transportation decision making. This data-driven approach uses tools and performance measures to seek lower cost approaches and efficiencies in operating highways, ferries, transit and rail, to reduce travel demand to save money and to reduce the need for building costly new infrastructure expansion.

How are we doing?

WSDOT, like other state departments of transportation, is increasingly challenged with delivering system performance, mobility and safety, within finite resources. WSDOT is one of a handful of state departments of transportation incorporating Practical Solutions as a way of doing business (the others are Pennsylvania, Missouri, Oregon, Kentucky, Tennessee, Colorado, California and Hawaii). This effort is so fundamental to WSDOT that Practical Solutions has become one of the three goals of our strategic plan.

What are we working on?

WSDOT is creating a decision making process that gives individuals the latitude to adjust their decision making process within the scope of overarching policies and guidance by January 2019.

Useful information

Top of page



Spotlight on decentralized decisions

Spotlight status icon Spotlight on decentralized decisions

We strive to make innovative, timely and cost-effective choices by delegating the decision making process to the lowest level possible.

Image of Landscape construction
With Practical Solutions, decision making focuses on the maximum benefit to the system, rather than the maximum benefit to an individual project. The goal is to allow more needs to be addressed system wide by reducing spending on lesser priority items on each project. The expectation is that decision making will be sustainable and cost effective, in support of our economy, environment, and communities.

With Practical Solutions, decision making focuses on the maximum benefit to the system, rather than the maximum benefit to an individual project. The goal is to allow more needs to be addressed system wide by reducing spending on lesser priority items on each project. The expectation is that decision making will be sustainable and cost effective, in support of our economy, environment, and communities.


More about decentralized decision making

Why is decentralized decision making important to Practical Solutions?

Practical Solutions begins with innovative, timely and cost-effective decisions. When decentralized decisions lead to better outcomes that foster accountability and save time and money, they exemplify what WSDOT is trying to accomplish through Practical Decision Making.

One example of this is the decentralization of decision making for hydraulics reports, an important aspect of many WSDOT projects. Hydraulics design concerns how we treat the stormwater that runs off the roadway to return it to a natural state.

WSDOT’s Hydraulics Section provides technical support, training and policy in the fields of hydraulics, fish passage, hydrology and stormwater. The goal is to ensure our roadways provide a safe, effective and efficient movement of people and goods while maintaining the natural movement and treatment of water throughout our watersheds and water bodies.

In 2016, WSDOT approved a decentralized decision making process for hydraulics reports. The new process delegated approval authority for certain reports to the regional level, saving WSDOT time and money for applicable projects.

How are we doing?

There are four types of hydraulics reports: Specialty Reports, Type A, Type B, and a Hydraulic Summary. The type of report required depends on the specifications of the project.

What are we working on?

In the past, Type A reports were developed at the region level, then submitted to WSDOT headquarters for approval. This process took approximately three months for each report.

In 2016, WSDOT used a Practical Solutions approach and streamlined the approval process. The authority for final reviews and concurrence of all Type A reports is now delegated to a person designated by each region’s Assistant Regional Administrator for Development. The authorized designee must be a licensed engineer, have two years of experience in stormwater or hydraulics design, possess a Highway Runoff Manual Certification and participate in statewide monthly coordination meetings. With these changes, Type A reports now only take one month to be approved, instead of the two to three months of the old back-and-forth process.

In addition to a 67% savings in processing time and staff salaries, the new decentralized decision making process improves collaboration between the regions and headquarters through the statewide monthly coordination meetings.

Useful information

Top of page



Supported partners and balanced discussions

How do we measure supported partners and balanced discussions?

WSDOT aims to use performance metrics that recognize stakeholder needs and strives to provide balanced solutions.


Progress    
WSDOT supports our partners and fosters discussions that
balance local, regional and statewide needs.
Under Development status icon
Under development

WSDOT works with partners statewide to align our plans around the six Legislative transportation policy goals of economic vitality, preservation, safety, mobility, environment and stewardship.

More about supported partners and balanced discussions

Why are supported partners and balanced discussions a priority?

WSDOT advocates for statewide priorities while being supportive of regional perspectives. We are balancing the agency’s commitment to state of good repair, safety and environmental stewardship while supporting partners as they respond to growth and pursue prosperity. Partnerships are an important part of the equation when it comes to Practical Solutions and practical decision making. WSDOT is working with Regional Transportation Planning Organizations (RTPOs) and Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs), both of which are voluntary associations of local governments and include members like cities, counties, tribes, ports, transportation service providers, private employers and others. Such partnerships help the agency prioritize needs and assess strategies to meet those needs.

How are we doing?

With our partners, we have formed a Plan Alignment Work Group (PAWG) as a forum to dig deeper into shared planning issues. This is an example of an effort where partners can learn from each other’s experiences; it fosters balanced discussions.

What are we working on?

PAWG has met four times in 2018, formed a charter and collaboratively developed a work plan. The group has outlined planning efforts through 2021 and is examining how policy goals translate into performance outcomes, identifying performance gaps, considering which strategies will perform best and what solutions should be funded. These efforts could lead to alignment of plans in the next 12 to 18 months.

Useful information

Top of page