Monday, June 11, 2018

Can Lean & Agile Help to Fix Our Court Systems? Part 4

By Pascal Dennis (bio)

The past several blogs we've looked at how to improve the Jury Selection process:

1. Jury Panel Selection --> 2. Jury Selection --> 3. Court Case

Our purpose is to increase flow and reduce overall cycle time. In other words, jurors get picked quicker, and court cases get processed quicker.

What can muck up the process? Last blog we inferred an important root cause: poor visual management.

Today we'll look to Little's Law for more insight:

Lead Time = Loading/Capacity

To reduce Lead Time we'd need to either:

  • Increase capacity, or
  • Reduce loading

How might we increase capacity?

Here are some ideas:

  • Run court rooms over two shifts - day & night,
  • Reduce delay, defect & over-processing waste by level-loading the Jury Selection process
  • - Enablers: visual management: Target vs. Actual -- Jury panel members, Jury members, cases, courtrooms & other relevant value stream data

How might we reduce case loading on the court system?

  • More cases heard by a judge (sans jury), as in some European jurisdictions

One final suggestion, from my friend & colleague, Al Norval, who has been a juror a number of times:

Move to a professional jury system.

  • Quicker & better decisions
  • - Many jurors lack the experience & knowledge to understand much testimony
    - Paid jurors would likely be older, wiser and more motivated to effect justice
  • Reduces burden on citizens who are unable to serve because of family or work commitments

Let me conclude as I began in Part 1 of this series:

The problems in the system, and not the people, who I found to be courteous & capable.

How to preserve the integrity of our humane & splendid 19th century system -- while satisfying the needs of a 21st century society?

I believe the principles of Lean & Agile can help.

Best regards


Monday, May 28, 2018

Can Lean & Agile Help to Fix Our Courts? Part 3

By Pascal Dennis (bio)

Last blog we began to build a SIPOC analysis around a high level Jury Selection process:

1. Jury Panel Selection --> 2. Jury Selection --> 3. Court Case

What can mess up the process?

Last time we discussed an important Direct Cause: Poor information flow at step 1

Here's a possible Five Why Analysis:

Why is there poor information flow to Jury Panel members at step 1?

Because people working in the Jury Panel Selection process do not know critical information such as:
  • How many cases are in the pipeline?
  • How many courts openings are available?
  • How many Jury Panel members do we need to fill these cases -- (i.e. what's our standard)?
  • How many Jury Panel members have we called?
  • What's the gap? Are we ok or not okay?
  • What's the countermeasure?

Why do they not know this? Inadequate visual management... (I saw almost no evidence of visual management in my three days in court)

My guess is this critical info is "in the computer" -- invisible...

If so, then Jury Panel members are called with little knowledge of how many are actually needed.

(For Production Physics aficionados: Are we not, thereby, buffering variation with inventory?)

Effect? Over-processing, delay & defect waste. Frustration, hassle & anxiety for Jury Panel members.

Longer & longer queues in the court system, and ultimately, bad guys go free.

Regular readers will recognize the importance of making the invisible, visible.



Monday, May 14, 2018

Can Lean & Agile Help to Fix Our Courts? Part 2

By Pascal Dennis (bio)

In my last blog, I described my daughters experience, and mine with Ontario's court system, which is similar to that used in the US, UK and many other countries.

I experienced many of the Eight Wastes including delay, defects, over-processing, and inventory in my fellow prospective jurors!

I spent much of the time is a thick fog and felt anxiety and frustration. Chats with friends & colleagues suggest my experience was not unusual.

Yet, our trial by jury process is precious & we need to support it.

So, how might we improve?

We might start by doing a SIPOC analysis: Supplier - Inputs - Process - Outputs - Customer.

Here's how our SIPOC might unfold. Let's start, as ever, with the customer.

Who is the customer? Why, the public.

What does the customer expect? Here are a few thoughts:
  • Justice for both the victim and the accused,
  • Reasonable speed -- we might set a lead time or throughput target
  • No bad guys should get off because of court delays,
  • No unreasonable hardship for jury members

What's the process? At the highest level, process seems to be:

1. Jury Panel Selection --> 2. Jury Selection --> 3. Court Case

What can muck up the process? Based on my experience, here are some possibilities:
  • Poor information flow at step 1 -- (as a result you show up when you're not needed, sit for days with nothing to do & no info etc.)
  • How many jury panel members and jurors do we need?
  • When, and for how long, do we need them?
  • How many do we currently have? Is this above or below our standard?
  • What do we need to do get back to standard?

Without this info, we're likely to call too many jury panel members, for too many days, thereby generating delay, over-processing, defects & other forms of waste.

So, information flow seems an important direct cause.

What are the root causes? I don't know enough about the process to say. But the countermeasure seems obvious:
  • Use information technology better so al to provide jury panel members with answers to questions posed above.
  • ◦ For example, can we not communicate with jury panel members by cell phone and e-mail?
  • "We won't need you tomorrow..."

Again, I don't want to be misunderstood. The problem, is in the jury selection process, not the people, who I found to be courteous, competent and cheerful.

(I'd welcome their comments & insights.)

More to come.



Monday, April 30, 2018

Can Lean & Agile Help to Fix Our Courts? Part 1

By Pascal Dennis (bio)

Number 1 daughter, Eleanor, is a first year Law student at McGill University. She spends a lot of time in court, and is appalled at the hassle & confusion.

“It’s awful, Dad! I spend hours trying to find and make sense of things – and I’m a Law student! How do regular folks feel?” We've had some fine discussions, the gist of which I'd like to share today and over the next several blogs.

As it happens, I have some personal experience. A few years ago, I spent several days on a jury panel, waiting to see if I'd be picked to serve.

A handful of countries including U.K., America, and Canada have been lucky enough to inherit the British system of law & order.

Let me begin by saying I strongly believe it's our civic duty to support it.

The judge was a learned, humane and articulate man, who spoke eloquently of this same duty, and contrasted our system with those of other, less lucky countries.

Nonetheless, despite his eloquence, my commitment & that of my fellow jury panel members, our three days felt largely wasted...

Wasted in the Toyota Production System sense -- we experienced unnecessary delay, errors, over-processing, transportation and motion waste.

In the end very few of us were called as jury members. Many were frustrated by all the waste, and unlikely to want to serve again.

Our experience was no exception. Across America and Canada, court back-logs are reaching two & three years, and bad guys are getting off.

As ever, the problem is in the system, and not the people, who I found to be courteous & capable.

Here’s our challenge: How to preserve the integrity of a humane & splendid 19th century system -- while satisfying the needs of a 21st century society?

Can the principles of Lean and Agile, (both ‘children’ of the Toyota Production System) help?

If so, how?

More to come.

Best regards,