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Showing posts from May, 2007

Trust Promotes Compliance and Is Catalyst for Fairness

What is fairness? Why do people cooperate with authorities? Why do they obey the law? Why is public trust in our courts so important?

To his already impressive body of research addressing these questions, Tom R. Tyler, Professor of Psychology at New York University, continues to add to our understanding of the interplay of fairness and trust and how both effect cooperation with authorities. Writing in the May issue of the Journal of Applied Psychology (Vol. 92, No. 3, 639 – 649), Tyler and his colleague David De Cremer, who is in the Department of Economic and Social Psychology, Tilburg University, Netherlands, report the results of two experimental studies and two field studies of the effects of procedural fairness and trust on people’s willingness to cooperate with authorities.

What Tyler found should be of interest to court leaders and managers: procedural fairness leads to cooperation and compliance only when trust in authority is high. It seems you can’t have one without the other.

Creating an Environment Receptive to Performance Measurement

An employee of a large urban court recently confessed to me her opinion about her court’s performance measurement initiative. (She did so reluctantly because she knew that I’m a strong advocate of court performance measurement.) She told me this: The results of the court’s access and fairness survey of court users holds about as much interest for me as the details of the presiding judge’s travel schedule – interesting, but not something that is relevant to what I do everyday.

Hers was not an isolated viewpoint in the court. Even though the survey results were made readily available in the court newsletter and other printed materials distributed by the court, most mid-level managers and line staff paid little attention. Some viewed the survey data as yet another brainchild of upper management that would translate into additional work, and nothing more, if they were not careful.

This is a problem that needs fixing. You can’t advance an idea in an unreceptive environment.

Getting With the P…

Performance Measurement on Wall Street

For some folks in court administration, the subject of performance measures is an anathema – the revenge of the number crunchers and spreadsheet guys -- for others, it’s their lifeblood. Apparently, the financial world sits up and takes notice when someone messes with its numbers.

Today’s Wall Street Journal reports that accounting-rule makers around the world, in the coming months, may eliminate the bedrock measure of business health and value: net income or net profit, the bottom-line figure showing what is left after expenses have been met.

Net profit is the measure of business performance millions of investors use every day to buy or sell stocks and bonds. It is used to determine executive bonuses and other forms of compensation. The single net profit number is the most commonly used measure to evaluate a company’s health, especially when it’s compared to the price of the company’s stock, what’s called the price-to-earnings ratio, or simply P/E. For example, the P/E ratio of compan…

The Real Promise of Performance Dashboards

Much of today’s hype about performance dashboards – a new book seems to coming out every few days -- misses an important point. Stephen Few, in his book, Information Dashboard Design: The Effective Visual Communication of Data (O’Reilly, 2006), for example, writes that dashboards have emerged in response to the “tsunami of data that rolls over and flattens us in its wake.”

To be sure, performance dashboards help those who are drowning in data -- the executive, manager or analyst who is overwhelmed with too much data. A well-designed performance dashboard lets her view performance measures at a glance, and then move easily through successive levels of strategic, tactical and operational performance information to get the insight she needs to solve problems and to improve program and services.

The focus is on those who already have access to performance data – albeit in a form that prohibits or at least discourages its use. But what about the people who do not yet have any access to rel…

The Key to Self-Renewal and Survival

The key to self-renewal and survival for an organization is a performance measurement and management system integrated with key management processes and daily operations.

Courts are conservative institutions. Unlike private business, which society will let disappear, courts are here to stay. They are steeped in the traditions of law that favor stability and continuity (precedence) over innovation and change. Like most public inctitutions, courts were originally created to prevent, or at least to slow down, change. Therefore, courts need to work harder than other public and private organizations to counter rigidity and decay that threaten their continuity.

Revolution every so often, as Thomas Jefferson recommended, is a radical response to senile decay and a failure of self-renewal. Obviously, such destabilization to the point of destruction is no way to run a court.

As Peter Drucker has pointed out in several of his writings, to maintain continuity – to survive – organizations must find…

Project Gainshare

Gainsharing – it’s like profit-sharing in the private sector -- is a system whereby units of government (e.g., a collections division or a jury management unit of a court) share in the gains teams of employees make in their bottom line or that of the state, county or city, without losses in quality of services and programs. Employees receive bonuses or payments based upon the improved productivity or efficiency as reflected in "gains" in cost savings or revenue increases. Gainsharing is based on widely accepted management principles that encourage employee initiative in continuous improvement of program and services to meet the needs of customers and citizens.

In my January 21, 2007 posting I discussed the prospects of gainsharing in courts. The promise for courts, I argued, is that gainsharing may help courts achieve sustained increases in productivity and efficiency, that employees may become more involved in the gains made by the court as they share in the benefits of empl…