Showing posts from December, 2005

Core Measures and Measurement Hierarchies

While experts in performance measurement might differ in their views about how many is best, they agree that users can handle only a critical few performance measures at any one time and in one view.

A court may have only one core measure of community safety, security and well being like recidivism, for example, but it may use numerous subordinate measures of recidivism at a strategic level (e.g., average recidivism by case categoreis and types), tactical level (e.g., recidivism for certain units like drug courts and probation departments) and operational levels (e.g., recidivism of probationers who particpated in a particular rehabilitation program). In addition, a court or its justice partners may usefully monitor, analyze and manage a host of meaures related to community safety, security and well being like the change in police contacts with families with cases in the jurisdiction of a family court.

The point is that the users of these recidivism measures have selective attention …

Q & A: Adopted, Adapted or Home Made Measures?

A: Why not simply adopt the set of 10 performance measures prescribed by the CourTools or by other authoritative sources and dispense with the six steps for building a court performance measurement system (See October 15, 2005, posting, Six-Step Process for Building an Effective Court Performance System (CPMS))? After all, the CourTools are endorsed by the Conference of Chief Justices (CCJ) and the Conference of State Court Administrators (COSCA) (see Resolution 14). Why reinvent the wheel?

Q: This is an important question, especially in view of the significant investment of time and resources required for building a court performance measurement system (CPMS). Unquestionably, models such as the CourTools are extremely valuable. No individual court, no court system, and no justice system (that includes courts) considering performance measurement should – and none of the dozen or so my colleagues have assisted in the last year did -- proceed without first studying the CourTools. However…

Forget “Statistically Significant”

In his 1996 book, Keeping Score: Using the Right Metrics to Drive World-Class Performance (Quality Resources, a Division of Kraus Productivity Organization Ltd.), Mark Graham Brown delivered a practical common-sense guide on how to develop and use performance measures as tools for world-class performance. In his latest book, Get It, Set It, Move It, Prove It: 60 Ways to Get Results in Your Organization (Productivity Press, 2004), he puts a sharper point on some the issues he raised in his earlier book.

Forget “statistically significant” when assessing organizational performance, he writes in Chapter 49. Distinguishing between organizational performance measurement and science, he states that the concept of statistical significance is critically important for science to rule out that the differences between the experimental and control groups are due to the independent variable and not to chance. For example, scientific researchers may be focused on whether the differences in lowered ch…

Implementation: How It Looks When You Get There

A previous post (Implementing Performance Measurement, November 12, 2005), explored what it takes to implement a court performance measurement system (CPMS). It reached the conclusion that even a well-conceived, well-designed CPMS will not necessarily get used unless it is woven into the fabric of a court’s management practices and processes. While such integration with strategic planning, performance-based budgeting and other formal management processes may be more demanding (more on this will follow in future postings), some relatively simple things can be done with powerful effects.

Two simple techniques that facilitate the implementation of a CPMS are: (1) making the review of the court's core performance results a permanent agenda item on the court’s executive meetings and (2) assigning ownership of core measures to key managers. Consider the following ideal scenario.

Your court has successfully built a CPMS that includes a set of eight core performance measures aligned with t…

Q & A: Getting Started with Performance Measurement – Breaking Down Resistance

Q: In recent postings you wrote about getting the right people on the bus (November 23, 2005) and about creating the right attitude (December 4, 2005). But how do you handle those in the court who are not at all convinced by Peter Drucker’s admonition, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure”? They are smart and thoughtful people who are philosophically resistant to performance measurement. “We don't work on an assembly line making widgets,” they might say. “We don’t work with machines. We deal with unique cases involving human beings who have complex problems that require individual attention. You can’t just send in the bean counters and number crunchers and crank out a bunch of performance indicators to capture what we do on a spreadsheet.”

A: You describe a common attitude throughout government, not just in the courts. Underlying this negative attitude toward performance measurement -- what Bob Behn, a lecturer at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government…

Q & A: Getting Started with Performance Measurement -- The Right Attitude

Q: My court wants to start using the CourTools and the Six-Step Design Process (see October 15, 2005 Made2Measure post) for building a court performance measurement system (CPMS). Beyond getting the right people on the bus (November 23, 2005 Made2Measure post), what do we need to get started?

A: You need the right attitude. The real value of performance measurement is not the performance measures themselves but rather the fundamental questions they force you to ask about your court’s programs and services. How is your court performing today? Where is it heading in the future? What are your major challenges? What are you going to do about them? It’s all about the kind of serious self-inquiry, self-analysis, and learning that is at the heart of good management. Performance measurement is not an end, but a means to an end. Kevin Baum, a long-time consultant and practitioner of performance measurement, wrote in a recent issue of Perform that performance measurement and management “is a dyn…