Trailblazing. Pioneering. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Innovation Laboratory was designed and developed to harness the creativity of employees to find solutions to the Nation’s problems. The lab represents the concrete embodiment of innovation—it started as a concept during a brainstorming session and concluded as a physical space for meeting, brainstorming, conceptualizing, designing, and implementing proactive solutions. The laboratory was built as a physical manifestation of “thinking outside the box,” and its presence is meant to spur consideration of possibilities outside of normal problem-solving avenues to address short- and long-term transportation challenges.
Inspired by the Office of Personnel Management’s Lab@OPM and the Government Services Administration’s push for better collaborative platforms, the Innovation Laboratory was developed from an Innovation Exchange (iExchange Council). The Innovation Laboratory’s open concept and unique design integrates whiteboards, writable table tops, chalkboard walls, dry erase walls, movable TVs, and wireless internet. All of these elements allow employees to step around normal work boundaries and limitations and enable them to collaborate and exchange ideas, concepts, and new approaches. The laboratory also shows how the agency's management acknowledges and continues to build a new space for open-minded collaboration, faces toward the future, and is ready to tackle challenges in unique ways.
Like many leading organizations, FHWA wants to use this laboratory to allow employees to work across multiple disciplines and come together so that all voices can be heard. All approaches investigated. All solutions vetted. The Innovation Laboratory wants to welcome more than the concept of “Why?” The laboratory wants problem solvers to embrace the concept of “Why Not?”