Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOT&PF) Promotes Innovation and Information Sharing through the Everyday Lean Program

The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOT&PF) developed the Everyday Lean Innovations & Ideas Program to provide an information sharing mechanism among staff despite the decentralized nature of the DOT&PF across the largest state in the country.

This initiative recognizes that when an easy fix is not at hand, front-line employees are the problem solvers and innovators on the ground. With Everyday Lean, the department can capitalize on that talent and share it across regional and system boundaries. With continued challenges in funding, employees are often confronted to find better, faster, less expensive ways to meet mission critical demands, and the department is focused on rewarding those that “think outside the box”. The Everyday Lean Innovations & Ideas Program provides employees with the tools and support they need to be mission successful.

The vision of the Everyday Lean Program is to:

  • Identify opportunities to make smaller-scale improvements that are within an employee’s control
  • Share ideas and innovation regardless of an employee’s duty station
  • Identify a problem or opportunity and develop an innovative way of doing it better
  • Submit ideas or innovations that have been tested and implemented regardless of the size

The Alaska DOT&PF leadership is committed to:

  • Listening to their employees and encouraging them to make the department better
  • Engaging all employees in “Everyday Lean Innovations & Ideas”
  • Developing and implementing ideas that will yield numerous benefits for DOT&PF and our customers

Thanks to the collective brainpower and ingenuity of the DOT&PF workforce and the need to speak as “One DOT&PF”, the Everyday Lean Program provides a mechanism to promote the sharing of information despite the decentralized nature of the department.

Employees are encouraged to submit ideas through various means to the Everyday Lean team. Once a year the ideas are vetted and voted on. Awards include top ideas and innovations that could be acted on in Safety Innovation; Junkyard Dog Innovation, Everyday Lean Idea Facility Efficiency; Environmental Innovation, One DOT&PF Innovation, and the Commissioner’s Innovation of the Year. Selected employees receive jackets and recognition awards.

Previous winning ideas have included tools that make jobs safer or save repeated damage to equipment. Examples include:

  • The Hinged Light Pole, which was created to improve access to the lights and security cameras for routine maintenance. The light pole is cut mid-section and a hinge inserted, allowing for the light pole to be lowered for easy access to service the light and cameras at the top end of pole.
  • The creation of a stormwater best practices guide for cohesive operations across the state. A simple flipbook was created for field operators to take with them on-the-job.
  • The Yeti was the 2015 overall winner. It is an in-house built snow and ice breaker built by John Frison, a DOT&PF Airport mechanic. The Yeti is an effective tool to remove ice and compacted snow on runways and taxiways and can be built for about half the price of a comparable commercial version.

For more information on how the Everyday Lean Program has helped Alaska DOT&PF encourage and promote innovation among its employees, please contact Meadow Bailey at meadow.bailey@alaskas.edu.

John Frison and the Yeti (2015 Everyday Lean Program Winner)

Hinged Light Pole