Q & A: Getting Started with Performance Measurement -- The Right People on the Bus

Q: My court wants to start using the CourTools and the Six-Step Design Process (see October 15, 2005, Made2Measure Posting) for building a court performance measurement system (CPMS). How do we get started? Who does it? How do we organize ourselves?

A: To start, get the right people on the bus. Sustaining the effort of planning, developing and implementing a court performance measurement system (CPMS) requires a guiding coalition of individuals who command both the resources and the respect of the court, and who can maintain the energy and momentum to keep the initiative going through its four phases (see below). The court should start the initiative by assembling a 9 to 15-member steering committee to direct and oversee the work. The steering committee, as part of its early planning, in turn, identifies a 6 to 12-member design team to take the steps of building a court performance measurement system (CPMS) in the second phase of the initiative. These two groups form the guiding coalition of the initiative.

Once assembled and oriented, the steering committee decides where to start, develops a timeline, and distributes the game plan to key participants and stakeholders. The steering committee should include both senior-level "cheerleaders" who demonstrate in words and actions that they are committed to the effort and technicians (e.g., the head of a court's research unit) who are able to invest a substantial amount of time. (In its manual, Measuring Program Outcomes (1996), the United Way of America estimates that the manager of what it calls the "outcome measurement work group" will be required to devote an average of five to 10 hours per week for 12 months to the effort.)

The size, makeup, and organization of the guiding coalition – including the steering committee and the design team -- will vary from court to court. For example, the Family Court of the State of Delaware, a court with 15 judges, 15 commissioners, a staff of approximately 300, and a total of 55,000 statewide case filings in 2001, began building its performance measurement system under the banner of the Quality Counts Project in 2001. Its guiding coalition included a steering committee -- a decision making and policy making body -- and five subcommittees under the control of the steering committee. Two senior-level staff co-managed the project. The steering committee, dubbed the Quality Counts Leadership Committee, included the chief judge and several other judges, the court administrator, two state legislators, a representative of the state's auditor's office, and the two project co-managers. The five subcommittees, each responsible for identifying and developing performance measures in one of the performance areas of the Court Performance Standards were headed by a senior managers and included between 10 to 20 staff members.

Outside consultants and facilitators are helpful but not essential to the success of the initiative. In the roles of technical advisor, project manager, change agent and cheerleader they can help keep the initiative from going stale Their value lies in their abilities to explain performance measurement at the beginnings and many points along the way; to help the guiding coalition and its members stay focused on what’s important; to tailor the phases and steps of the initiative to the needs of the court; to focus on signs of loss of momentum and to challenge formal and informal institutional rules that favor undesirable inertia; to convey enthusiasm; to help get people get unstuck; to press the steering committee and design team toward taking action and assigning responsibilities; and to congratulate people whenever possible.

4 Phases of Establishing a Court Performance Measurement System

Phase 1. Initiating and Planning.
Organization and project management, proof of concept, education, readiness and feasibility assessments, identification of design team, planning and scheduling.
Phase 2. Design and Development. Six-step process of building a court performance measurement system (CPMS).
Phase 3. Implementation and Training. Integration of performance measurement and CPMS with key management practices and processes including strategic and operational planning, budgeting, resource management, communication, information technology, and quality improvement.
Phase 4. Institutionalization. Automation, organizational infrastructure, and maintenance.

Copyright CourtMetrics 2005. All rights reserved.

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