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Showing posts from September, 2005

Independence, Accountability and Performance Measurement

In various policy statements and resolutions, the Nation’s state court leaders in the Conference of Chief Justices (CCJ) and the Conference of State Court Administrators (COSCA) link independence and accountability with organizational performance measurement. Most recently, with Joint Resolution 14, In Support of Measuring Court Performance, adopted on August 3, 2005, the Conferences first join independence and accountability by recognizing that accountability fosters an environment where legislators, executive agencies, and the public understand the judiciary’s role and are less likely to interfere with the judiciary’s ability to govern itself. The Conferences next make the link with performance measurement by declaring that “judiciaries need performance standards and measures that provide a balanced view of court performance in terms of prompt and efficient case administration, public access and service, equity and fairness, and effective and efficient management.”

This view reflects…

A Preference for Outcome Measures

“Never mistake activities with results,” said John Wooden, the legendary Hall of Fame basketball coach, who knew a thing or two about winning. In sports, we all seem to know the differences between resources (inputs) like uniforms and salaries, activities (outputs) like conditioning programs and practices, and results (outcomes) like winning and losing games and titles. Fans and owners prefer outcome measures when evaluating coaches and players. Win games or you’re quickly out of a job! As I post this in late September, only three games into the National Football League season, the coaches of teams with losing records are already feeling the heat. The fact that they are very busy doing an impressive number of improvement activities (outputs) will matter little to fans and team owners.

What hard lessons can we learn from this preference for outcome measures in sports? In brief, it’s this: Courts need to shift their focus from measures of their outputs – hearings held, cases heard, and t…

Top 10 Reasons for Performance Measurement

There is a growing demand of “show me the data” from citizens and taxpayers, legislators, executive agencies, oversight boards and communities – all of whom exchange money and other support (e.g., trust and confidence) for services -- that courts can ill afford to ignore. Courts need to measure their performance to meet the demand for public accountability. But the benefits of court performance extend beyond accountability including improved prediction, better understanding and control, influence, a sharpened focus on what is important, and discovery of better practices. Objective performance data is central to good management practices like strategic planning, performance-based budgeting, Balanced Scorecards, Total Quality Management (TQM), and Six Sigma. Performance measures allow court leaders and managers, policymakers, legislators and the public to evaluate court programs’ inputs (the resources allocated), outputs (direct results of program or service activities) and outcomes (br…

Q & A: Why Measure Performance?

Q: You’ve heard that a Court Performance Measurement System (CPMS) that gives you a snapshot of your court’s performance on your personalized Web-based dashboard is the next big thing in court administration, but that doesn’t quite do it for you. Given all the things you have to consider – strategic planning, Six Sigma, outsourcing, reengineering, and activity based management – you still want to know why you should measure your court’s performance in the first place.

A: The answer is simple – clarity, focus and action. Performance measures – like the percent of court users who are satisfied with the way they were served by your court or the percent of case files that were retrieved within ten minutes of request – are valuable to court leaders and managers because they are unambiguous and actionable. They serve as clear incentives and practical tools for change.You probably thought that your job is to analyze the complexity and chaos of your court’s operating environment and reflect it…