Background: Beginning in 1926, Highway Route 66 linked Chicago to Los Angeles creating a 2,400 miles road route (200 miles shorter than any previous route) linking the Midwest to the Pacific Coast. Route 66 became a symbol of American freedom and the pursuit of a better life through greater mobility and ability to travel. Route 66 resonates in the minds of many Americans as something that reflects significant parts of American history which include the routes use in the movement of people seeking relief during the Dust Bowl period of the Great Depression and the development of America after WWII with the ability to more quickly transport products to small towns and rural areas.
Background: As a result of improvements in the American highway system, Route 66 was decommissioned in 1985. Public interest in preserving structures, features, artifacts, and sections of the route prompted the federal government to enact the Route 66 Study Act of 1990 with the intent of examining the route’s significance in American history and determining preservation, interpretation, and use options. This eventually led to congressional approval of the creation of the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program in 1999. Oversight of this program was given to the National Historic Trails System established in 1968, a subset of the National Park Service (NPS). The New Mexico office is located in Santa Fe.
Structure : With the passage of several laws, the Federal government initiated the Route 66 Preservation Program, which is under the direction of the NPS. However, Public Law 106-45, which created, funded and enabled the program, was under a 10-year time restriction. Therefore, in 2009 the program was preparing for the possibility of a transfer to non-federal oversight. On March 30, 2009, President Obama extended Federal support of the program for another 10 years. Nevertheless, the government’s approach to the program is one of guidance, rather than absolute control. The Federal government provides local, state, and tribal entities as well as groups and individuals the knowledge and tools necessary to pursue preservation projects. Interested parties develop projects and seek feedback and technical assistance and funding support from the program with little or no supervision to help their ideas come to fruition. One available resource is the “cost-share” grant program whereby those that follow the guidelines set by the government and have at least 50% of the funding necessary to complete the projects may receive approval and matched funding. Unfortunately, there are more grant requests than funds available. NPS also helps its partners find alternative funding resources. Vision : The program founders desired that the historical and cultural values of Route 66 be preserved and commemorated for generations to come. To that end, the program seeks to identify those things deserving and needing funds for preservation. Educating the public about Route 66 and historic preservation is critical to buy-in from communities and support for preservation projects. Since there are many needs along the Route, the program must also attempt to prioritize and determine which are most important at any given time. Properly addressing the needs is also of great concern. Standards have been set as to what qualifies and what can be used in the process of preservation. The long term vision of the program is to identify and/or develop a non-federal group to eventually take on the role of managing Route 66 and to ensure a sustainable legacy. As part of this vision, the program has a goal for each community along the Route to have a plan to ensure the Route’s survival and preservation and to develop support systems should the government remove its financial support. Culture : The Route 66 Study Act of 1990, which was created to determine need for the program, provides a good view of the government’s approach: “given the interest by organized groups . . . a coordinated evaluation should take place.” The belief system evident in how program activities are carried out stems from the democratic ideal behind the U.S. government where citizens’ involvement is encouraged and required. For that reason, the Federal government partners with state, local, and tribal governments and other groups and individuals interested in preserving this historically significant part of America. The overall culture of the program is one of collaboration, partnering and facilitation. Strategy : As previously discussed, the Federal government’s strategy is to provide support and guidance that the stakeholders can continue to use even if Federal funding is removed, helping program partners and supporters become as independent as possible. Strategies include: administering cost share grants, developing local corridor management plans, developing long-term planning documents at all levels, encouraging the development of a national Route 66 organization and providing encouragement for healthy, sustainably organizations along the Route (state by state).
The government through NPS shares information and standards with various parties, while allowing partners, community members, and groups to pursue projects and request cost-share grants for planning, oral history, interpretation, and education/outreach projects as well as landscapes, road segments, and structures like gas-eat-sleep related businesses. At the same time, open communication with other stakeholders like tourists, townspeople, and individuals living near preservation projects is encouraged and pursued. Given their autonomy, groups raising funds and preparing project proposals are motivated to learn by the shared goals members pursue. Individuals also have varying degrees of interest in learning and can seek resources that meet those needs. Depending on involvement, individuals and groups can decide depth of learning about the program and ways they desire to seek learning as provided by some information on the Route 66 Program web page and links provided. NPS employees can receive different kinds of trainings through text and multimedia on government websites. They also may attend various face-to-face trainings. Non-government employees interested in better understanding preservation also have many options for increasing learning depending on level of interests and goals. They can register for conferences, get involved by volunteering, read information on websites, or utilize multimedia available on some websites.
KNOWLEDGE Over time, initiators, promoters, and leaders of the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program have collected information that is necessary and helpful to pursuing projects. This information is shared in the form of email correspondence, face-to-face meetings, telephone conversations, hard copies of literature and newsletters, as well as documents posted on the Route 66 Program webpage (http://www.nps.gov/history/rt66). As new knowledge is gained about processes and procedures, this information is added to the webpage. For example, under the Publications tab on the website, the NPS Directory of Financial & Technical Assistance published in 2002 is provided. In addition, to ensure greatest visibility and allow for ease of retrieval, the link to the guide is posted in several other locations on the website. Several other guides are also treated in this manner including the Standards Guide that ensures responsible preservation and the Technical Preservation Services Publication Catalog which provides numerous resources that help people plan the details of their projects. Furthermore, NPS Newsletters are posted and archives are available. Links to partner websites are also provided. NOTE: Currently, information is not added or updated quickly and some information is outdated due to a shortage of personnel. There is a need for a Webpage Manager, and a consultant has been hired to update the website and train staff. The cost share grant guide is updated annually; the Directory is updated periodically Every year several conferences, week-long trainings, and seminars are held which cover preservation topics related to historic roads, main streets, and leadership. Links are provided to the websites where registration for upcoming conferences occurs; these websites also provide many resources including information about previous conferences.
TECHNOLOGY Technology is used to supply information to people who need it. Manuals, publications, newsletters, bulletins, and other types of documents are provided on the Route 66 Web page, which includes TABS to locate information on the history and description of the program, cost-share grants, current news, training, publications, other links, a map, and contact information. These tabs provide many links to documents and other web pages created by federal, state and local governments, non-profit organizations, and other useful sources of information. While NPS employees can attain formal trainings online at the NPS website, most online training consists of information that has been supplied in text form. Other partners and external websites provide useful information about Route 66 in multimedia formats, but preservation is typically not discussed. Most information is organized by tabs and links which are often repeated in other pages where they may be of value. A search tool is not provided on the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program website although this tool is often provided on other partner sites. NOTE: although the slide’s description of “Technology” is not currently accurate, this is the ideal that the Program is working toward. The Current website is incomplete and not up-to-date and is relatively static At this time, NPS is the only partner keeping up the web database so it doesn’t reflect the world of knowledge that is being shared from other stakeholders.
As a relatively new government program and one that has a small staff and limited budget, there is no clear learning initiative in place at the program or organizational level. A consideration of organizational aspects, people, technology, and knowledge management helps show how learning occurs and how it can be encouraged and broadened as the Route 66 Program continues to evolve. Fortunately, with its long organizational history the National Park Service has a clear overarching vision that learning initiatives could be aligned with on individual, team and organizational levels. Although learning takes place and is supported, the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program is currently not a learning organization as defined by Marquardt. LEARNING INITIATIVES Within the Route 66 Program there appears to be learning at the individual level for NPS employees and also learning between NPS staff and the general public involved in the Route. Most of this learning happens in trainings, conferences and via internet and telephone contact.
Using an Appreciative Inquiry Approach, the following strengths were derived from each subsystem. Organization Leaders Guide and Support The governmental leadership provides resources to help other involved proceed with projects they choose to pursue. Guidelines, standards, and a wealth of other resources are provided to help them be successful in their pursuits. People Open Communication People from various groups come together with a shared vision. Some work for the program; some volunteer, but all have the common goal of working for preservation of Route 66 history and structures. Knowledge A wealth of Information Sources and Systems that are Connected in Various Ways The Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program encompasses many groups including federal, state, local, and tribal governments; non-profit groups, communities, groups within communities, and individuals within communities. Some of these groups act as partners of the Route 66 Preservation Program. The leaders, groups, and individuals involved have culture of involvement and support with a shared vision for desiring to preserve Route 66. This leads to much openness and willingness to share information. Due to the variety of organizations coming together to support preservation interests, the program has included a wealth of links to materials and websites that help people get the information they need at the click of a mouse. In many of these systems, materials that are older are retained and archived or updated for continued availability and use. Technology Use of the Internet to make information available to as many people as desire it. Creating a webpage with many links for the program allows anyone to seek information about it which serves the needs of employees, community members interested in pursuing projects, people interested in volunteering, and tourists.
Organization Leaders Guide and Support People Open Communication Knowledge A wealth of Information Sources and Systems that are Connected in Various Ways Technology Use of the Internet to make information available to as many people as desire it. The Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program’s greatest strength comes from its culture of freedom and empowerment which leads government entities to provide project organizers a great deal of autonomy. People are further empowered to pursue what interests them whether this be to pursue a preservation project, find fulfillment in volunteer work, or just enjoy America’s history. This empowerment increases personal motivations to learn and share learning via the most open means possible: the Internet. The other greatest asset of the Program is the intense desire of all partners and stakeholders to fulfill the vision of long term preservation of Route 66 despite differences of opinions and strategies.
Leveraging Learning Strengths to Increase Learning: Empowering the people is the greatest learning asset of this program. Clearly this has already had a positive impact on the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program leading to its creation and the many projects that have already been funded and completed. Empowering the people has led to increased interest and the involvement of many groups and individuals. Learning can be increased if governmental leaders continue to find ways to empower the people. The number of people with shared interests can be increased by providing more immediate venues for them to come together and share information in various ways. While links and resources informing about partners and other supporting entities is useful, the people can be more empowered by the creation of options such as chats, blogs, social networking sites, etc… provided on the Route 66 webpage. In addition, the creation of material in multimedia formats would provide different learner types options for viewing and digesting information. Many partner websites already have these. Leadership could encourage the pursuit of more sharing so that the Route 66 webpage also houses or links to these other learning and communication options. In addition, the Route 66 site provides basic options and often has technical problems (Clicking tabs and files often leads to “information unavailable” pages). Many partner sites, on the other hand, were clearly more sophisticated than the Route 66 site. Program coordinators and leaders can use learning strengths (a culture of empowerment and sharing) by encouraging partners, volunteers, and community members to participate in providing the expertise and resources necessary to improve upon the central website dedicated to Route 66 Corridor Preservation. Furthermore, parties interested in increasing public knowledge of the program could consider a cost-sharing grant proposal focused on education/outreach through this means.
Case Study: RT66 as a Learning Organization
Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program What is Route 66? All images from Google Image:
Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program Why did this program get started?
Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program Learning Organization Case Study National Parks Team Robin Mastropiero and Monique Schoustra How does learning happen within the program? A consideration of organizational aspects, people, technology, and knowledge management as described in Marquardt’s Systems Learning Organization Model helps show how learning happens as this program continues to move forward. Technology Knowledge Organization People Learning
Organization What does the organization look like?
How is knowledge created & shared? Knowledge Practical Field Experience State, Local, & Tribal Governments Non-Profit Organizations People & Groups in the Community Training NPS
How is technology used? Technology Webpage Practical Field Experience State, Local, & Tribal Governments & Non-Profit Organizations People & Groups in the Community Training NPS
Organization People Knowledge Technology H O W L E A R N I N G H A P P E N S Training Practical Field Experience State, Local, & Tribal Governments & Non-Profit Organizations People & Groups in the Community Training NPS Learning Practical Field Experience State, Local, & Tribal Governments Non-Profit Organizations People & Groups in the Community NPS
Analysis of Learning Strengths through Appreciative Inquiry Technology Many Websites with Links Knowledge Open Sharing through Internet & F2F Organization Leaders Guide & Support People Self-Directed People Leaders provide many resources, Network of Information Learning
Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program Assessment of Learning Technology Knowledge Organization People Greatest Learning Strength Empowering the People
Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program Recommended Learning Initiatives <ul><li>Enhance Communication & Collaboration: </li></ul><ul><li>Develop better ways to share and exchange information from stakeholders and </li></ul><ul><li>those who are “on the ground.” </li></ul><ul><li>Move away from “Top Down” approach. </li></ul><ul><li>Re-design the Route 66 webpage to allow cost-share project applicants to more quickly acquire information about previous grants received, projects completed, projects in process, grant proposals currently being reviewed, and potential projects that could be pursued. </li></ul><ul><li>Break down the physical distance of stakeholders that has been a communication barrier by using technology for more frequent communication (monthly conference calls/chats) </li></ul><ul><li>Produce a quarterly rather than an annual newsletter </li></ul><ul><li>Leverage resources (volunteers) </li></ul><ul><li>B. Increase spread of information about technological improvement needs; get people excited: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Use upcoming meetings with partners/community groups to present need. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Encourage volunteers with technological expertise to support program. </li></ul></ul>
Resources Gill, Stephen (2000). The Manager’s Pocket Guide to Organizational Learning. HRD Press. Management. National Park Service http://www.nps.gov/safe/parkmgmt/index.htm Marquardt, Michael (2002). Building the Learning Organization; Mastering the Five Elements for Corporate Learning, 2nd Edition. Davies-Black. National Park Service http://www.nps.gov/index.htm Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program. National Park Service http://www.nps.gov/history/rt66/ Route 66 National Scenic Byway. New Mexico Land of Enchantment: New Mexico Tourism Department. http://newmexico.org/scenicbyways/route66.php Watkins, Karen e. & Marsick, Victoria J. (1993). Sculpting the Learning Organization . San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
<ul><li>RUBRIC </li></ul><ul><li>for </li></ul><ul><li>Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program/Organization Needs Analysis </li></ul><ul><li>Organization: What does the organization look like? </li></ul><ul><li>Structure </li></ul><ul><li>Vision </li></ul><ul><li>Culture </li></ul><ul><li>Strategy </li></ul><ul><li>People: Who are the people involved? </li></ul><ul><li>National Park Service employees </li></ul><ul><li>Citizens </li></ul><ul><li>Tourists </li></ul><ul><li>Community groups </li></ul><ul><li>Volunteers </li></ul><ul><li>Government leadership </li></ul><ul><li>Other government entities who share resources </li></ul><ul><li>Knowledge: How is knowledge created and shared? </li></ul><ul><li>Governments and Non-profits </li></ul><ul><li>National Park Service </li></ul><ul><li>Training </li></ul><ul><li>Practical field experience </li></ul><ul><li>People and community groups </li></ul><ul><li>Technology : How is technology used? </li></ul><ul><li>National Park Service website & links </li></ul>
<ul><li>Learning: </li></ul><ul><li>What does learning within the program looks like? </li></ul><ul><li>1. Learning is done individually by NPS staff. </li></ul><ul><li>2. Public and other partners learn via website resources and trainings & conferences and public </li></ul><ul><li>outreach programs initiated by NPS. </li></ul><ul><li>Indicate what learning initiatives would be of greatest value to this organization. </li></ul><ul><li>Program-wide Analysis of Learning Strengths through Appreciative Inquiry </li></ul><ul><li>Increased use of Technology including social media </li></ul><ul><li>Increased communication between NPS employees </li></ul><ul><li>Program commitment to becoming a learning organization on all levels: individual, team and organization. </li></ul><ul><li>Reference tools and resources used to assess organization </li></ul><ul><li>DLOQ- Dimensions of the Learning Organization Questionnaire (developed by Watkins & Marsick) </li></ul><ul><li>Marquardt’s System Learning Organization Model </li></ul><ul><li>OLIT 514 Class discussion materials </li></ul><ul><li>Websites </li></ul><ul><li>Interviews with contacts within organization </li></ul>