Showing posts from April, 2007

Undesirable Variation in Court Performance

Variation in treatment of court users and court employees, in the time and cost of processing cases, in the reliability and integrity of case files, in the compliance with court orders, and in other key court performance areas is inevitable but generally not desirable. If you had your choice of between processes that produced predictable and consistent results and ones that produced good results one day and bad the next, poor quality under some circumstances and good quality in others, which ones would you choose? Both court managers and the public recognize the benefits of stable processes and consistent and predictable results.

Understanding and controlling variation (e.g., knowing whether particular performance falls outside established upper and lower “control limits”) are at the heart of quality improvement methods such as Total Quality Management (TQM) and Six Sigma. More than 25 years ago, W. Edward Deming and Joseph Juran noted that variability on core measures of performance i…

Toward the 50 “Best in Class” Courts

The word “toward” is, of course, the rub. We have today no such list of top court performers that represent the “best in class” for each of the levels of courts: supreme courts, intermediate appellate courts, general jurisdiction courts, limited jurisdiction courts, and specialized courts. Justice Served, the alliance of court management and justice experts headed by my friend Chris Crawford, is in its eighth year of reviewing thousands of court online offerings around the world for the now-famous Top-10 Court Websites awards. Why can’t we do this for court organizations as a whole? Would it attract interest (or objections)?

I have a long-standing interest in comparative performance measurement and benchmarking (see “How Do we Stack Up Against Other Courts? The Challenges of Comparative Performance Measurement,” The Court Manager, Vol. 19, No.4, Winter 2004-2005.) It was rekindled last week when I read the cover story in the March 26 Business Week, “The Best Performers: The Business…