Elements of a Successful Judicial Transformation
In our conversations with public-sector leaders across the world, we hear real urgency—and a fair amount of anxiety—about the need to transform government services. At the national, state, and city levels, governments know they must find new ways to meet the expectations of citizens, many of whom are increasingly discontented. Often governments must also provide “more for less” in an environment of fiscal constraint, and myriad forces that trigger government transformations make their task more challenging.
What distinguishes the 20 percent of transformations that succeed from the 80 percent that do not? Our study distilled five essential disciplines, “the five Cs,” and found that transformations that apply to all of them are more than three times as likely as other change initiatives to succeed. The disciplines are as follows: committed leadership, clear purpose and priorities, cadence and coordination in delivery, compelling communication, and capability for change.
These might seem obvious, but they are rarely applied effectively—and they are particularly difficult to implement in the context of the political cycles, complex delivery systems, and multiple stakeholders that characterize the justice sector.
The experience of the transformation leaders we interviewed made it clear that a high degree of personal commitment and energy—and often true courage to challenge established conventions—are necessary in bringing the five Cs to life.
Leaders of successful transformations were twice as likely as their peers in unsuccessful initiatives to model the behaviour they expected of public servants.
Clear purpose and priorities
Successful transformations paint a compelling picture of their destination—and make it crystal clear to public servants and citizens why the change is necessary. When it comes to objectives, less is more: successful efforts keep targets few, specific, and outcome based.
Cadence and coordination in delivery
Successful transformation efforts are characterized by smart approaches to delivery, which differ markedly from traditional public-sector approaches to policy development and implementation. A smart approach requires a fast yet steady pace, a flatter hierarchy with close collaboration among different agencies and functions, and the flexibility to solve problems as they arise. It also requires an empowered and focused transformation team to spur the pace and track progress.
Every government communicates, but only a few do so effectively enough to win hearts and minds. Engaging more with frontline employees such as: Judges, Court Clerks, Judicial Assistants, Courtroom Reporters, and Interpreters would have enhanced success. Transformations need well-planned, in-depth, genuine two-way communication with all the groups affected by the change—especially the organizations’ own staff.
Capability for change
Finally, governments, courts and justice agencies need to rethink their approach to public-service capabilities if they are to increase their odds of success in major change programs. Over centuries, governments have honed their skills in areas such as policy and diplomacy. They now need to build new capacity and encourage agility to transform how they deliver services.
Beyond the five Cs: Putting citizens at the heart of transformations
The task of transforming large-scale public-sector organizations is daunting—all the more so given the high failure rate revealed in our survey. By embedding the five Cs, public-sector leaders can substantially improve their odds of success (Exhibit 3). However, our study also identified further technology-inspired techniques to support faster and better change: citizen experience, design thinking, and agile practices. Pioneering organizations are using the concept of citizen experience to understand people’s end-to-end journeys in services such as public transport and business licensing. They are drawing on design thinking to reconfigure such services in a way that integrates the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements of the provider organization. And they are deploying agile practices to quickly design, prototype, and test services with users.