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Board-CEO Involvement in Innovation/Change Management

Board Chair Trudy Bartley and CEO Joanna Pinkerton on Breaking the Traditional CEO Mold at COTA

November 1, 2018 0 Comments

Traditionally, at the top of the list of qualifications public transit boards specify when recruiting candidates for the CEO position is in-depth operational experience.  So it’s no surprise that over the years the great majority of vacant CEO positions have been filled with executives who have worked their way up the operational ladder in one or more transit authorities.  This operational bias is easily understandable.  Even small to medium-sized transit authorities are incredibly complex organizations – both operationally and technically – and it’s only natural to want an executive in the top spot who can keep the buses and trains … Read the rest

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Donna DeMartino: Playing the Chief Innovation Officer Role With Gusto at San Joaquin RTD

September 19, 2018 0 Comments

Over the past quarter-century I’ve learned that the public transportation authorities that are really good at getting significant, out of the box innovation and change accomplished are invariably led by a CEO who is passionately committed to playing – and well prepared to play – what I call the Chief Innovation Officer role.  The CEO is the only person in your authority who can wear the Chief Innovation Officer hat for the simple reason that no one else brings to the change game the formal authority, influence, access to resources, and time required to spearhead an out-of-the-box innovation effort and … Read the rest

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CEO Dave Genova on Getting Stakeholder Engagement Right at RTD-Denver

June 29, 2018 0 Comments

You’ll recall that in earlier posts at this blog we’ve defined “stakeholders” as individuals, groups, and organizations it makes sense to build and maintain relationships with because something important is at stake.  For example, the office of the mayor and board of county commissioners in your region are always primo stakeholders whose political – and often financial – support are tremendously important to your authority.  Over my 30 years of work with public transit CEOs and their boards I’ve come across more than one case of poorly planned and managed stakeholder engagement.  This is really unfortunate since the support of … Read the rest

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CEO Brad Miller’s Podcast on Tweaking PSTA’s Business Model

June 8, 2018 0 Comments

In a rapidly changing environment, one of the preeminent keys to making sure your authority thrives and grows is for you, as your authority’s CEO, to take the lead in updating its business model, wearing what I call the “Innovator-in-Chief” hat.  Therefore, I’m pleased to share the fourth podcast in this blog’s ongoing series on public transit business model updating, featuring Brad Miller, Chief Executive Officer of Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority, who describes mobility on demand initiatives launched on his watch.  After listening to Brad’s highly informative podcast, you might want to take a look at one or more of … Read the rest

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A Critical CEO Challenge: Updating Your Authority’s Business Model

May 21, 2018 0 Comments

According to APTA Chair Nat Ford and CEO Paul Skoutelas in the podcast featured in the March 14 post at this blog (https://boardsavvytransitceo.com/aptas-dynamic-leadership-duo-takes-mobility-management-issue/), local transportation authorities must make a stark choice in this time of dramatic, continuous change, in terms not only of communication and transportation technologies, but also of changing customer needs and preferences.  They can be aggressively opportunistic:   embracing and capitalizing on the opportunities that a tumultuous environment offers by playing the preeminent leadership role in their communities in partnership and network building that brings together various transportation modes (ride sourcing; car sharing; bike sharing; train … Read the rest

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Taking Re-Branding Up a Big Notch: Karen Philbrick on the MTI Experience

March 20, 2018 0 Comments

I wasn’t initially blown away by enthusiasm when Karen Philbrick, Executive Director of the Mineta Transportation Institute, suggested that we record a podcast for this blog focusing on MIT’s re-branding initiative.  What came immediately to mind were the many re-branding efforts I’d observed over the years that involved essentially cosmetic touch-ups.  I was reminded of the most recent egregious example:  a local economic and community development corporation whose light – the board and chief executive had concluded – was well hidden by the proverbial bushel:  its role unclear and its achievements unrecognized.  Unfortunately, they chose a cheap and easy solution … Read the rest

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APTA’s Dynamic Leadership Duo Takes on the Mobility Management Issue

March 14, 2018 0 Comments

Drawing on my quarter-century in the public/nonprofit leadership field, I could share many true stories of successful board chair-CEO collaboration that make the case for what really board-savvy CEOs well know: investing in the development of a rock-solid board chair-CEO working relationship can yield powerful organizational dividends.   In fact, I would suggest that one of the preeminent priorities of a truly board-savvy CEO is to transform his or her board chair into a strong governing partner, a reliable ally, and when needed, an ardent change champion. The board chair makes an especially important partner for the CEO not only because … Read the rest

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Dramatic Innovation on the Health and Wellness Front at IndyGo on CEO Michael Terry’s Watch

March 3, 2018 0 Comments

The Indianapolis Public Transportation Corporation (known as “IndyGo”) has been blazing trails on the health and wellness front for the past decade under the leadership of its President and CEO, Michael Terry.  In the podcast he recently recorded for this blog, Mike describes a number of significant innovation initiatives in the health and wellness area that IndyGo has successfully implemented on his watch, including a comprehensive employee wellness program and an on-site primary care clinic.

As our readers well know, significant organizational change tends not to happen, and CEOs who would spearhead change face a daunting challenge. Perhaps the most … Read the rest

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Blazing Trails on the Diversity and Inclusion Front at RTS

February 16, 2018 0 Comments

In Changing By Design (Jossey-Bass, 1997), I recount a real-life example of the difference between what Chris Argyris calls “espoused theory” and “theory in practice.”  Early in my career I worked closely with a young, ambitious, fast-track college chief executive who was an avid consumer of the latest management thinking and could go on at length about one innovative technique or another.  A favorite hobbyhorse of his was participatory management and team building.  Waxing eloquent on the subject of teamwork as a key to organizational innovation, his eyes would tear up on occasion – he was that sincere.  His espoused … Read the rest

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Making Sure Your Retreat Generates Powerful Outcomes

December 14, 2017 0 Comments

Over my thirty years of work with public transit CEOs and their boards, I’ve seen a number of transit authorities bring off board-CEO-executive team retreats that have made a real difference in their authorities’ affairs: developing board governing capacity; strengthening the board-CEO working relationship; updating values, vision, and strategic goals; energizing board and staff members; etc. By the way, a real retreat (as opposed to just a long meeting) lasts at least a full day and often 1 ½ days.

Experience has taught me that the key to a productive and energizing retreat is a systematic retreat design process that … Read the rest

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