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Soliciting High Value Research Problem Statements


Soliciting High Value Research Problem Statements Tri-State Research Peer Exchange Vermont - New Hampshire - Maine October 26-28, 2010 – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Soliciting High Value Research Problem Statements

Soliciting High Value Research Problem Statements
  • Tri-State Research Peer Exchange
  • Vermont - New Hampshire - Maine
  • October 26-28, 2010

Tri-State Peer Exchange Team Members
  • Jennifer Fitch, VT
  • Glenn Roberts, NH
  • Dale Peabody, ME
  • Leni Oman, WA
  • Mike Sanders, SC
  • Chris Hedges, TRB
  • Dick McReynolds, KS (retired)

Peer Exchange Focus Area 1 Successful
Practices for Soliciting/Identifying High-Value
Research Problem Statements
  • How do you solicit ideas?
  • Who is asked for ideas?
  • What forms/templates are used?
  • How/when is Executive staff involved?
  • How are research problem statements prioritized?
  • What level of detail is required during the
    initial solicitation phase?
  • What roles and approvals need to be identified
    before a problem statement is considered (i.e.
    Sponsor, Champion, etc.)

Exploit Existing Forums
What Did We Learn?
  • Take advantage of existing agency initiatives
    and collaborations to build awareness of
    high-value needs opportunities in various
  • Tri-State groups meet regularly in disciplines
    such as Traffic, Maintenance, Project
    Development, etc. to discuss common problems and
  • Add research needs as a regular agenda item
  • Seek out other high-profile task
  • Forward related research, offer assistance (e.g.

Be Conversant in Agency Needs
What Did We Learn?
  • Research staff need to be aware of the key
    issues and challenges facing the Department
  • Be cognizant of the agency strategic
  • plan and goals and how research
  • can help
  • Build relationships and regularlycommunicate
    with key contactsin other divisions
  • Use hallway conversations, research
  • focus-groups, and TRB State visits to
  • listen and seed suggestions or shareresults

Need for Connection
What Did We Learn?
  • Continually engage top management in the research
    process to clarify priorities
  • More challenging, but perhaps more critical, if
    Research office is layers-removed from executive
  • Especially important if strategic goals of the
    agency are not formalized or well-defined
  • Amplifies the need to regularly publicize
    research successes
  • Maintain research on the radar of Executive staff

Follow Up and Follow Through
What Did We Learn?
  • Effectively communicate a fair and open
    solicitation process
  • Provide timely feedback regarding
  • programmatic and project-level decisions
  • Stakeholders need to understand the reasons their
    ideas are not selected problem statement
    deficient or does need not reflect top priorities
    of agency?
  • Dont make promises you cant deliver
  • Know the limits of your financial,
    organizational, and human resources

Create Short Term Wins
What Did We Learn?
  • Build trust and buy-in through meaningful
  • Literature searches, library research, syntheses
  • Strengthens the tie between Research and key
  • Keep agency staff informed of national programs,
    panel opportunities, research conducted by others
    including how your agency fared and why

Reach Out
What Did We Learn?
  • Help managers see the opportunity in research
  • Reach out to less traditional sources of research
    needs i.e. all functional areas of agency
  • Budget and Programming, Legislative
  • liaisons, Human Resources,
  • AGC, universities
  • In collaboration with agency staff

It Takes an Agency.
What Did We Learn?
  • Bottom-up and top-down research needs must be
    addressed for a robust program to exist
  • Idea-generating workshops and mini-RACs (by major
    discipline) can be effective, particularly for
    large research programs
  • Forms should be simple to use, but convey
    pertinent information related to agency strategic

Provide Research Resources
What Did We Learn?
  • Promote external research programs (regional,
    NCHRP, TPF) and assist agency stakeholders in
    submitting effective problem statements
  • Monitor TRB research needs statements (RNS)
  • Continue to learn successful practices from other
    states, TRB and FHWA