The Causal Chain Linking Performance Measurement, Management and Development

In his 1993 book The Ecological Vision: Reflections on the American Condition, the social scientist and renowned management thinker Peter Drucker argued that there are no underdeveloped countries. The same thing can be said about a country’s justice system including courts and other justice institutions. 

There are only “undermanaged” countries and justice systems. Management creates social and economic development.  Wherever there are only capital and other resources (inputs), there can be no development.  Management is the process of getting people together for joint behavior to accomplish desired goals using available resources efficiently and effectively to produce desirable outputs and outcomes. Management is the driver; development is the consequence.  Economic and social development is a matter of human energies, Drucker writes, and the inspiration and mobilization of human energies is the job of management.  

The last link in the causal chain is performance measurement. The familiar saying “You can’t manage what you don’t measure” is the mantra of successful managers for good reason. Wherever there is no regular and continuous measurement of performance, there is no good management.  From an organizational management perspective, the difference between a successful and unsuccessful justice system is the ability to analyze performance data and act on the insights and the understanding in real time or near real time.  A high-performing court system has the ready capacity and political will to answer the question “How are we doing?” 

© Copyright CourtMetrics and the National Center for State Courts 2012. All rights reserved.

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