OnTrackNorthAmerica (OTNA) Transportation Action Planning Process represents a shift—from the current model of transportation plans as reports and projections—to actually designing, committing to, and implementing optimal transportation “action plans”.
The complex task of growing infrastructure systems to meet increasing population and looming environmental concerns requires a new level of coordination and collaboration among stakeholders. Existing planning approaches have not yet bridged the gap between public sector concerns and private-sector business interests. OTNA’s Transportation Action Planning Process is a new method for convening these stakeholders in large-group transportation planning that turns both shared and divergent perspectives into smart plans and effective action.
OnTrackNorthAmerica’s Transportation Action Planning Process:
The 10 Steps of the Transportation Action Planning Process
Step 1: Getting Seated & Started
Guiding question: Who are the stakeholders and their designated representatives, and how are we going to interact in this engagement?
Guiding perspective: A successful engagement starts with group agreement on who else should be in the dialogue “room” in addition to those invited initially by the conveners. Stakeholders, in this model, include legislative, public agency, and community representatives, as well as private sector service providers and customers. Once the process of inviting and welcoming additional stakeholders is completed, the facilitation team introduces the participants to the engagement protocols. They are discussed, amended, and expanded as needed to meet the specific engagement scope. The facilitation team guides participants to make individual commitments to the level and timeliness of their participation during the engagement. Participants agree to be coached and encouraged by the facilitation team to meet their participation commitments.
Step 2: Assess
Guiding question: What regional opportunities and needs can be advanced by transportation system improvements?
Guiding perspective: Transportation investments are best conceived to integrate with plans and investments across economic, social, and infrastructure domains. Considerable thought is given to natural resource development, manufacturing, logistics, jobs, quality of life, and the environment. Once an understanding of the current state of the region and its opportunities is established, the group aligns around an initial vision for this transportation-oriented action plan. Divergent perspectives become the topics to be resolved through the “inquiry-based” dialogue method, E-Naction, described at the end of the Action Planning process write-up.
Step 3: Measure
Guiding question: What are the commercial, social, and environmental measures that support system benchmarking and targeting?
Guiding perspective: Setting and achieving goals toward the vision require the clarity provided by specific measures for performance and efficiency. When everyone reaches agreement on a set of objective and precise measures for evaluating the efficiency and performance of projects and the encompassing systems, it will be easier to agree on and commit to targets, strategies, and plans.
Step 4: Target
Guiding question: What are the desired transportation system performance and efficiency goals for the geographic area of this engagement?
Guiding perspective: Action planning requires consensus around specific targets to build on the vision and set the direction for strategies, plans, and projects. In this method, transportation planning shifts from accepting predictions based on past trends to proactively creating the preferred future.
Step 5: Strategize
Guiding question: What strategies and support are needed to accomplish the targeted goals?
Guiding perspective: To reach significant goals we must employ successful strategies. These strategies then drive the thinking underlying plans and action steps as well as the way stakeholders relate to each other. Within strategies we must consider potential risks and uncertainties as well as desired futures.
Step 6: Plan
Guiding question: What are the tactics, plans, actions, legislation, and investments needed to accomplish the goals?
Guiding perspective: This step creates the “action plan”; a comprehensive set of action steps with self-assigned stakeholder responsibilities. Planning may require a great deal of work by the stakeholders as it establishes a plan for future resource commitments and actions necessary to reach the targets.
Step 7: Commit
Guiding question: What stakeholder commitments to the goals and strategies are needed for a successful outcome?
Guiding perspective: Stakeholders need to commit to take the actions necessary to achieve the plan’s targeted outcomes. A group of stakeholders making commitments to each other engenders a spirit of accountability that will more likely result in positive action.
Step 8: Enact
Guiding question: What new legislation, regulations, and stakeholder responsibilities are needed to support the plan?
Guiding perspective: The legal framework in North America institutionalizes competition both in the marketplace and in governance. Accommodating the collaborative approach of the OnTrackNorthAmerica action planning process will require legislative adjustments to anti-trust rules. Also, the conception of fiduciary responsibility to company shareholders will need adjustment to allow for longer-term, collaborative business strategies. The action plan may also require an expansion of mission, scope, and/or powers within relevant public or private entities. And finally, the plan may call for legislation to support necessary public policies.
Step 9: Capitalize
Guiding question: How can we attract and leverage resources to support the comprehensive plan and goals, including finance capital, natural resources, land, and intellect?
Guiding perspective: Infrastructure funding, both public and private, will gravitate to whole-system, long-term plans that improve overall stability, growth, and return on investment. Individual projects become more rational, stable, and profitable and therefore more attractive to investors. Natural resources, land, and intellect can be invested wisely since stakeholders have collectively included resource allocation in the comprehensive planning process.
Step 10: Act
Guiding question: How can we best implement and coordinate the plan elements and actions to achieve the targets?
Guiding perspective: The engagement has created a comprehensive plan that includes stakeholder commitments for all actions. Implementing the plan requires effective facilitation so that the stakeholders can best coordinate actions and hold each other accountable. Stakeholders will internally manage their portion of the overall action plan. The facilitation team along with project management staff will track commitments and actions, inform stakeholders about progress, and manage the process of addressing roadblocks.