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Showing posts from 2006

A Framework of Business and Technology Architecture Supporting Performance Management

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Over the last several years, my colleagues and I at the National Center for State Courts have recommended that courts design, develop and implement automated performance measurement systems. Such a system is supported by multiple interlocking layers of technology and business architecture that translates a court’s mission and strategies into clear performance metrics. We agree with Wayne W. Eckerson, the director of research and services for the Data Warehousing Institute and the author of the 2006 book, Performance Dashboards: Measuring, Monitoring, and Managing Your Business (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.) that the system should be built on a multilayered business intelligence and data integration architecture including the processes, tools, and technologies required to turn data into information and knowledge. Further, we’ve recommended that the performance information needs to be communicated quickly and concisely in the form of performance dashboards, scorecards or other computer-s…

Rensis Likert: The Master of Cool

Just when you thought you had the bean counters, spreadsheet guys, and stat boys on the run comes Wired Magazine to remind us that measurement is downright cool. “Human beings measure things,” writes Lucas Graves (“Disparate Measures,” December 2006). “It makes us feel smart and helps us to understand our surroundings.” Graves’ evidence is some of the scales we use to parse, codify, and compartmentalize the world.

The most familiar among the “six of the coolest scales” cited by Graves is the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale. The five categories meteorologists talk about represent the probable damage to man-made structures caused by a hurricane based on wind speed and storm surge. There’s the Mohs Hardness Scale developed in 1812 by Friedrich Moh to gauge the strength of a mineral. His method rates hardness by staging a catfight between minerals. A rock that can scratch another rock ranks higher than the one it scratched. My favorite is the Glasgow Coma Score to measure level of consci…

Standardized Measurement Reports Generated by Automated Systems: An Afterthought?

Automated case management systems -- as well as other automated systems for finance, jury utilization and management, fine and fee collection, and other court functions -- typically have a “reporting” functionality. Users are able to view various standardized reports generated by the automated systems.

An Example

For example, using the Odyssey case management system, developed by Tyler Technologies Inc. of Plano, Texas, the Clerk of the Twentieth Judicial Circuit in Ft. Myers, Florida (and, at least theoretically, any individual or agency with inquiry access to the system), can access over 60 standardized reports under the following headings: (1) case analysis (e.g., cases without activity, listing cases without base events that have been filed for a specified period of time); (2) case administration (e.g., case load activity report, a summary report of court activity indicating changes in counts and percentages of cases filed and disposed from the start to end dates for any date range)…

In Praise of Employee Satisfaction

After participating in two judicial conferences recently, in which the idea of surveying court employee opinions (see Measure 9 of the CourTools) was met with considerable skepticism, especially by judges, I was particularly struck by a Toyota magazine ad that pictured a group of smiling and seemingly satisfied Toyota plant workers. The ad read in part:

Being a good corporate citizen starts with hiring lots of good citizens. What’s a good corporate citizen? It’s about people. People who care about what they do and how they do it. And at Toyota, we know these people pretty well. Because we hire them every chance we get. … [They] take pride in everything they do. Quality, teamwork and dependability, that’s what they are all about. [They] care about doing what’s right; at work as well as in their communities. They really are good citizens. Which in turn makes Toyota a better corporate citizen. Isn’t nice when things work out?

In an article titled “No Satisfaction,” Charles Fishman (Fast Co…

Are Courts Ready for Some Serious Games?

On a recent flight, I sat next to Robert Hone, creative director of Red Hill Studios in Larkspur, California. He was on his way to the Serious Games Summit held October 30 and 31 in Washington, D.C. The summit, Hone explained, brings together game developers, buyers, and industry professionals to exchange ideas and advance the state of the art of serious games for government, professional training, education, healthcare, military, science, and social change. Hone, it turns out, designs serious games for a living. We talked about serious games for court managers.

Serious games (SGs), according to Wikipedia, are “computer and video games that are intended to not only entertain users, but have additional purposes such as education and training.” The term serious games came into wide use in 2002 when the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington D.C. launched the Serious Games Initiative to encourage the development of games that address policy and management issu…

Pursuing Perfection – A Lesson from Health Care

Regina Berman cares about performance. It’s in her job title -- she’s the administrative director of performance improvement at the Hackensack University Medical Center in Hackensack, New Jersey. Her experiences at Hackensack and those of other hospitals who are doing the same things have something to teach courts.

Improving Quality
Hackensack and Berman worked for seven years to improve quality and are at the leading edge of a nation-wide movement to reform health care that relies on performance measures. The hospital’s heart attack mortality rate is consistently about 2% lower than the national average, which ranges from 6% to 10%. Other hospitals want to know Hackensack’s secret, but Berman says it doesn’t have one. Hackensack has developed policies and procedures to ensure patients get the care that prevents harm and save lives as evidenced by performance data. Throughout the 781-bed hospital, staff monitor and analyze every process, looking for ways to save time and avoid erro…

Deliberate Practice of Performance Measurement

Top performers engage in what K. Anders Ericsson calls “deliberate practice” – an effortful activity designed to improve individual target performance. Ericsson, a professor of psychology at Florida State University, has spent 25 years interviewing and analyzing high-performing professionals and is the co-editor of the Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance (Cambridge University Press, 2006). He claims that, except maybe in some sports, elite performers aren’t genetically superior. They just do some things differently – like monitoring and managing their performance using established benchmarks.

“Successful people spontaneously do things differently from those individuals who stagnate,” Ericsson said in a recent interview in Fast Company (November 2006). “They have different histories.” He explained how deliberate practice with an example of a medical technician who may see a patient once or twice, make a diagnosis, and then move on, and never see the patient again. …

Progress Boards, Legislative Mandates and Judicial Branch Responses

Oregon state government spends over 43 billion dollars biennially. What are Oregonians getting for their money? Are they getting the right results? Assuming they are, are they being produced in the most efficient manner possible? In a recent brief, Rita Conrad, Executive Director of the Oregon Progress Board, and Dawn Farr of Oregon’s Legislative Fiscal Office say that Oregon’s performance measure system is getting better at answering these questions. And I think they’re right.

Does your state have a “progress board” or similar state agency pushing performance measurement and results-based management?

Whether the judicial branch leaders and managers regard actions by state progress boards as a threat to independence or, alternatively, as a welcome challenge, state progress boards are a source of valuable information. The take-way message of this post is that court executive and managers should take a serious look at what progress boards and similar agencies have to offer in the way of…

Eight Tips for Making Use of Court Performance Measures

The road to success is always under construction.

LilyTomlin, American Actor and Comedian

Earlier this year, Made2Measure posted 10 tips for designing performance measures. Once you’ve designed the measures, here a eight more to ensure that the measures get used.

Tip #1.Build a performance dashboard, scorecard or other effective display of your performance measures. It makes no sense to take the steps of designing the right performance measures and assembling critical performance information if the data are not delivered to the right people, at the right time, and in the right way. That’s where performance dashboards, scorecards or display systems come in. The goal of creating a performance measurement display system is to provide intended users with meaningful information that they can quickly and easily access, assimilate and understand. An effective display enables court leaders, managers and other users to monitor, analyze, and manage the critical processes and activities needed to a…

Open Book Management in the Courts

Open book management is a management technique popularized by John Case in his 1995 book, Open-Book Management: The Coming Business Revolution (New York: Harper Business). As the name implies, its aim is to give employees all relevant financial information about their company so they can make better decisions as workers. The concept behind open book management is the same as that supporting line of sight court performance metrics and measurement hierarchies. That is, in order for performance measures to be practical tools and to serves as incentives for improvement -- for measures to be motivational -- there must be a line of sight between the measure and actions that can be taken by employees at various levels of the court. It conveys to everyone what the drivers of success are and provides them with the concrete knowledge of how they contribute to that success.

Here are the basic rules of open book management extended beyond financial information to all performance data available t…

International Center for Best Practice

In a post last February, I wrote that I was tired of "best practices" and recommended that the concept be replaced with evidence-based practices, defined as programs, strategies or procedures for which there is demonstrable evidence that their use produces desirable performance outputs and outcomes. I wrote that best practices, the way the term is used in court administration, instead should be called “interesting practices,” “intriguing practices,” “promising practices” and, maybe, “practices-you-might- want-to-see-in-person-if-the-weather-is-right.” I worried that the irony was a bit too sharp. I should not have worried.

In his July Bob Behn’s Public Management Report (Vol. 3, No. 11), Bob Behn, a lecturer at Harvard University’s School of Government, takes the irony to another level. If, as Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds,” then “best practice” is the refuge of unimaginative ones, writes Behn. Why are public managers so obsessed wit…

Step 6 – Designing Performance Measurement Display, Dashboards and Scorecard Systems (Part 2)

This is the final installment in a series of articles exploring the Six-Step Process for Building an Effective Court Performance Measurement System (CPMS) first summarized in Made2Measure (M2M) in October 2005. See listing below.

The design of a measurement display system should not wait to begin until the first five design steps have been taken. Instead, a rough mock-up of a display of the core performance measures – in the form of a simple hand-sketch, for example – can be produced as early as Step 2 - Identifying Desired Performance Measures. A simple mock-up will facilitate the first five steps by helping potential users to imagine what they might see when they interface with the court performance measurement system (CPMS). It will help to focus and to energize the building of the CPMS. Completion of Step 3- Creating Measurement Hierarchies adds detail to this mock-up with the addition of subordinate measures cascading from the core measures.

The Role of Technology

The last seve…

Step 6 – Designing Performance Measurement Displays, Dashboards and Scorecard Systems (Part 1)

This is the eleventh in a series of articles exploring the Six-Step Process for Building an Effective Court Performance Measurement System (CPMS)first summarized in Made2Measure (M2M) in October 2005. See below for a listing of the parts in this series to date.

If you have reached this final step of the design of a court performance measurement system (CPMS), you’re probably already convinced that your court or court system gains a lasting advantage by providing leaders, managers, and staff -- as well as other stakeholders – clear and actionable data to monitor, analyze and manage performance. But how are you going to do this? How are you going to ensure that those who need the performance data are able to access it? Performance measurement displays, dashboards or scorecards represent the final output of the design of an effective CPMS.

The Right Place, Time and Manner

It makes no sense to take the steps of designing the right measures and assembling the critical performance informatio…