By now we've all heard about the Strategic Plan, but how does it impact our daily lives as Trial Court employees?

From the Electronic Application for Criminal Complaints (EACC) to Innovation Grants, dozens of recent initiatives were once “tactics,” or goals, in the Trial Court’s Strategic Plans 1.0 and 2.0.

Issued in October 2016, Strategic Plan 2.0 (SP 2.0) includes workplace improvements such as more comprehensive employee training and increased use of new technologies. The plan strives to create viable career paths for employees and greater job satisfaction at every level in the system.

Communicating the goals outlined in SP 2.0 to judges and court employees is one of the tasks assigned to the Trial Court’s Program Management Office (PMO), headed by John Bello, Director of Facilities Management and Capital Planning, and Cynthia Robinson-Markey, Legal Counsel to the Boston Municipal Court Department. The PMO helps keep the commitments outlined in SP 2.0 on schedule.  

“Strategic Plan 2.0 calls for the Trial Court to implement over 50 tactics by December 2019,” explains Cynthia. “The plan focuses on the Trial Court’s 6,000-plus employees, especially in regards to training and career development. John and I are here to help make the ambitious goals outlined in the plan a reality.”

 

Program Management Office
From left, Program Management Office team members: Cynthia Robinson-Markey, Legal Counsel to the Boston Municipal Court Department, Donna Hall, Administrative Assistant for the Executive Office of the Trial Court, and John Bello, Director of Facilities Management and Capital Planning.

 

“Last fall, Harry Spence and I chose Cynthia and John to head the PMO for their combined leadership abilities and institutional knowledge, along with their boundless energy and enthusiasm for the plan,” says Chief Justice Paula Carey.

Strategic Plan 1.0, issued in June 2013, focused on increasing the court system’s accountability and transparency in its daily operations. It also aimed to improve the dignity of the court experience for the public and employees. Facilities’ online request form is one example of a successful SP 1.0 tactic.

Strategic Plan 2.0 also emphasizes court employees’ job satisfaction and career development needs. SP 2.0’s six “domains” or major subject areas reflect this shift and include: talent and career development, decision-making within each local court, Access to Justice and user experience, the judicial experience, case flow management, and next generation technology.

Cynthia and John monitor the plan’s progress on a monthly basis and meet quarterly with the Strategic Leadership Team to report on the progress of SP 2.0’s tactics.

“Cynthia and I help problem-solve,” says John. “We want to keep moving the ball up the field to the goal.”

Creating a culture that embraces change.  One sign of the first strategic plan’s success was the strong response the planning committee received when they asked for volunteers to participate in a second strategic planning process.

Nearly 150 Trial Court staff signed up to work on the plan. Team members engaged with court users and state agencies to address challenges court users and employees face.

“Tactics overlapped with what team members do on a daily basis,” says John, who notes that increased input from judges, clerks, and Probation staff was essential to crafting SP 2.0. “Everyone involved in the process put pens to paper and drafted their milestones based on practical knowledge and personal experience.”

“The plan moves us towards this vision of: ‘I want to work here’ or: ‘I’d be proud to work there,’” adds Cynthia.

The tactics, with their many components and deliverables, are designed to be ambitious, says Chief Justice Carey.

“We understand that the strategic plan is stretching the Trial Court,” says Chief Justice Carey. “Court Administrator Jon Williams and I along with the PMO see our roles as inspiring tactic owners to achieve their vision and dreams for the Trial Court.”

What’s next? The next Strategic Leadership Team quarterly check-in is set for June 22. The Trial Court Chief Justices, Directors and Deputy Court Administrators will communicate to their judges and employees about SP 2.0’s specific tactics, and how they relate to their jobs and departments.

Please email any questions or suggestions about Strategic Plan 2.0 to programmangofc@jud.state.ma.us.

Strategic Plan 1.0:

  1. Focused on administrative priorities
  2. Centralized plan driven by the Strategic Leadership Team (SLT)
  3. SLT met monthly

While…

Strategic Plan 2.0:

  1. 50+ tactics, spanning 6 domains
  2. More judicial engagement
  3. Local ownership
  4. Decentralized
  5. Leaders as owners of tactics
  6. Integration and alignment with Probation
  7. SLT meets quarterly
  8. Program Management Office
  9. Definitions of Success and Progress Measures

What’s in a plan?

The Trial Court’s Strategic Plan 1.0 was issued in June 2013 and was successfully completed by June 2016. Effective organizations typically conduct strategic planning exercises in three year cycles. The success of SP 1.0 set the foundation for SP 2.0.

Strategic Plan 2.0’s six domains are the result of issues and potential solutions first raised by the Strategic Leadership Team. Each domain contains its own set of tactics, and has a team charged with its implementation. Tactics are the tasks or deliverables that relate to each domain. The deadline for SP 2.0 to achieve its 50-plus tactics is December 2019.

Read it:

  • Trial Court Strategic Plan 2.0

  • Court systems around the country have working strategic plans. The National Center for State Courts has a list with links to other states’ plans, which you can see here.