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Showing posts from 2010

Measurement of Hard Outcomes Trumps Process Measurement (Again)

Researchers this week cast doubt on the wisdom of looking first at processes and operations to drive quality improvement and urged Medicare, which provides health insurance to people 65 and older, to focus on “hard” outcomes such as rates of surgical deaths and serious complications. In a study published this Monday in Archives of Surgery, a medical journal, and reported this Tuesday by the Wall Street Journal (Thomas M. Burton, “Medicare Faulted on Surgery Evaluation,” October 19, 2010, A6), researchers at the University of Michigan said a better way to lower rates of death and serious complications is to focus on actual outcomes like death rates and to publicize those  rates for all hospitals. This focus on actual outcomes is something my colleagues and I have been advocating for courts since the promulgation of the Trial Court Performance Standards twenty years ago and continue to do so with the CourTools and the Appellate CourTools. (See one of the first few postings here, "A…

A Justice Index: The Quest for the Holy Grail of Court Performance Measurement

My colleagues and I have long sought what is for us the Holy Grail of performance measurement -- a simple, easy to grasp index of the performance of courts and the justice system that could be used by both insiders and outsiders. Such an index recently was brought back into sight by two prominent proponents, legal scholar and law professor Laurence H. Tribe, and journalist and author Amy Bach.

Tribe is a scholar of constitutional law and former Harvard Law School professor whose students include Barack Obama, John Roberts and Elena Kagan. Tribe took the position of Senior Counselor for Access to Justice, U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) earlier this year. In that position, he will lead an initiative aimed at improving access to civil and criminal legal services and will work with federal, state, and tribal judiciaries in strengthening fair, impartial, and independent adjudication. He will also exchange information with foreign ministries of justice and judicial systems regarding eff…

Who Has More Innovative Ideas Than You Do? Your Employees

You’ve got to give people at all level of your organization the opportunity to find solutions to problems. You’ve got to mobilize everyone to generate improvement strategies, not just the people at the top. A court that depends solely on its senior management to address its challenges risks failure.

That is the advice of Ronald Heifetz, Alexander Grashow and Marty Linsky give to managers and leaders in their article “Leadership in a (Permanent) Crisis” in a recent issue of Harvard Business Review. The three are partners of Cambridge Leadership Associates and authors of The Practice of Adaptive Leadership (Harvard Business Press, 2009).

Their advice for adaptive leadership is reason enough to give all court employees all of the court's performance data on demand, whenever they need it, in real time -- not just once a year or once a month. But there’s an even more compelling reason that should strike at the heart managers who aspire to leadership: You don’t have a monopoly on good…

Gainsharing and the British Royal Navy

The British Royal Navy in the age of Admiral Lord Nelson (1758-1805) knew a thing or two about incentivizing employees. According to John Steele Gordon writing in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal (“Incentives vs. Government Waste,” May 14, 2010, A19), the British Royal Navy was extremely good at capturing enemy warships and sweeping enemy commerce from the seas. And there was a good reason why.

The Royal Navy’s success, says Gordon, was due to the enormous incentives that it offered its officers and men. The entire value of the spoils was shared by the Navy officers and their men according to a rule of eights. One-eight went to admiral; two-eights went to the captain of the ship; one-eighth each to the commissioned officers, senior warrant officers, petty officers, and midshipmen; and two-eights to the crew.

These were not insignificant amounts of loot. They could make captains rich by the standards of the mid-18th century. The crew could receive many times a year’s pay. Gordon asserts…

The Epitome of Humanity

As a social scientist who has spent the last several years in developing countries learning empathy -- mostly to shut up and to listen carefully to what my counterparts have to say, something I was trained to do but often have failed to do -- I was heartened by Joshua A. Dijksman’s deep bow (Views, International Herald Tribune, April 23) to the “rights and duties to science and society” that serious researchers bear. Like Dr. Dijksman, I too believe that the scientific method – careful observation, objectivity, patience, modesty, replication, and only drawing conclusions based on very reliable data – can be the very “epitome of humanity” that can lift us all above the prejudices, slander, downright lies and rumors and the kind of “disingenuous, small-minded social keelhauling” that serves as public discourse and much of policy these days.

Making Headway - The Key to Employee Engagement

We’re making good progress! This declaration suggests motivation, optimism, dedication, and commitment. When employees sense that they’re making headway toward a clearly defined goal, their drive to excel is at its peak.

Understanding the power of the perception of progress is one of the ten breakthrough ideas for 2010 compiled by Harvard Business Review in cooperation with the World Economic Forum. “Ask leaders and managers what they think makes employees enthusiastic about work, and they’ll tell you in no uncertain terms …[r]ecognition for good work,” write Teresa M. Amabile and Steven J. Kramer in the January – February 2010 issue of HBR.

Trouble is that they’re wrong. Amabile and Kramer surveyed more than 600 managers in dozens of companies about five factors commonly considered to be instrumental in motivation and positive feeling about work: recognition for good work, incentives, interpersonal support, support for making progress, and clear goals. Recognition for good wor…