Lessons in Process Improvement from the Government?


    From the Government? That too from the Judicial Branch!!!

    Judge Jon Tigar must be one of the coolest, most efficient judges in California and he taught me some lessons on how business processes can be improved on the fly, even in Government!

    Usually we complain about Governments not working for us properly, but sometimes individuals within the Government can teach us vaulable lessons on how things can be done differently, more efficiently and effectively, if they just thought differently, sometimes!

    I was called for Jury duty today and like about 150 other people showed up in the morning at the Renee Davidson courthouse in Oakland, CA. This is part of the Alameda County Courthouse system.

    Three groups of jurors were called and sent to different chambers for jury selection. I, along with about 60 others were called for jury selection for a rather lengthy civil trial. The judge (Judge Jon Tigar) did something unusual. His chambers were across the street in another courthouse building. Rather than ask all 60 or so people to come there , he, along with his court clerk, walked across and came to the jury assembly room!

    That’s true process improvement step #1. Judges are famous for keeping the sanctity of their chambers and will usually enter only after everybody is assembled and is standing! This judge thought it will be easier, quicker and more efficient for him to just walk across, rather than make 60 other people come to his chambers! Elimination of waste due to movement, and elimination of waste of time!

    The judge knew that since it was potentially a long trial, many people may claim hardship and ask to be excused. So he asked only those  that needed to claim hardship to stay back and the rest were asked to show up the next day for jury selection! Process Improvement step #2!

    Next he asked that everybody who had a hardship to write a page explaining the hardship and hand it over to the court clerk. After that, you were free to go get lunch and come back at 1.30 p.m. The time was now, 11.30 a.m.

    At 1.30 p.m he had already gone through the hardship claims and decided to separate them into three piles – Those that were excused because he thought their hardship was credible. The second list of names were those whose hardship was credible but their service could be postponed instead of beinge excused – they just could not make this trial, but could a trial 90 days down the road. The third pile was a list of names that he wanted to ask some more questions of. Only those had to stay back!

    At 1.30 p.m he had made this list, made copies for all jurors and just handed them this list and asked only the third group to stay back! The rest could leave!

    What a process improvement! By properly doing ABC analysis and triaging, he had made life simpler for himself, the court and the potential jurors!

    He had saved himself the time, energy and made it easier for the jurors also.

    Who says Government cannot teach us about Process Improvement? There are very smart people in Government also, like Judge Jon Tigar and their efforts need to be applauded. I know that in certain branches like the judiciary, judges have a lot of authority to do things their way and some of these are worthy of emulation!

    Excellence is the unlimited ability to improve the quality of what you have to offer – Rick Pitino