A simple equation:
A bold vision + a motivated team = remarkable results
I believe that, as leaders, we should always seek to improve. Setting a clear-picture vision is an excellent first step.
The following case studies showcase how leaders can take good programs and make them better. Peruse these case studies, then ask yourself: “How can a good process in my organization be better? Even great? Instead of yielding acceptable results, how can we achieve remarkable results?”
CASE STUDY #1
The 60 in ’06 Campaign: Processing time is cut from 120 days to 60 days without adding staff. The keys: a bold vision, empowerment, and creativity.
When Jonathan became Chief of the Crime Victim’s Compensation program in the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, it took an average of 120 days to process claims. The program provides reimbursement to victims of crime for expenses related to the crime.
After gaining insight from many employees, Jonathan announced an aggressive vision: Reduce the processing time to 60 days. People nearly fell off their chairs!Leadership challenges
The existing process had been in place for many years, and some employees were wedded to it. No one thought this mark was attainable. A common objection was: “Impossible. It can’t be done.” Also, no budget increase was available. The group could not meet the goal by increasing staff, outsourcing, or adding significant technological alternatives. Plus, there were an increased number of claims. In fact, prior to announcing the new vision, some managers and supervisors were seeking additional staff. The vision would need to be met with sheer creativity and ingenuity.
Jonathan established a clear picture of the vision: “60 in ’06.” Campaign activities included:
- Kicked off the campaign with a professional speaker at a staff meeting organized by several employees. (They became the first cheerleaders for the vision.) Jonathan underscored the importance of the vision for constituents.
- Ensured everyone was involved in helping to achieve the vision.
- Solicited ideas from everyone involved in the process.
- Established a creative team representing each position throughout the process: investigators, attorneys, supervisors, managers, and other professionals.
- The team discussed, debated, dug into issues, and completely revamped the process.
- Initiated an Idea of the Week Award to show appreciation for those who participated and to encourage ideas from all staff members.
- Created a “nothing is sacred” environment. Emphasized that there was nothing in the current process that couldn’t be challenged or enhanced.
- Posted progress charts and posters as constant reminders of the vision. Every month, the number dropped. As the numbers dropped, more people caught the fervor.
- Continually reminded everyone how achieving this vision was important to the constituents.
The team caught the vision and achieved the goal within the stated timeframe. Even those who thought they had no chance of meeting the goal became highly involved. The thrill of success rippled throughout the team. Many projected they would beat the goal, and they did.
The constituents – crime victims and victim advocates – loved the revised process. It benefited them greatly. In fact, in a related process, the team streamlined requests for documentation and reduced the turn-time for claims to as low as only two days.
The energy created by this vision carried forth, well beyond meeting the vision.
Achieving it impacted people on a personal level. Some employees choked up when talking about this accomplishment. They had given their all to reach the goal. Many changed their attitude about what they really can do, both personally and professionally.
For the most part, the solution was simply human ingenuity. The experts who do the work – the “soldiers” on the front line – offered extraordinary ideas and effort to achieve the “impossible.”
CASE STUDY #2
The ADVANCE Academy: A new program is born because employees saw the need, caught the vision, and carried it to fruition.
In Ohio, no comprehensive training existed for victims’ advocates. Yet these professionals need a variety of hard and soft skills. For example, how do you notify someone that their loved one was killed? What are the special concerns of domestic violence victims, and how do you relate to them? Dealing with victims in knowledgeable, skillful ways helps them navigate legal and social support networks and helps them convalesce. Training ideas had floated around the Ohio Attorney General’s Office for years, but nothing had come to fruition.
When Jonathan came on board as Chief, he recognized this compelling need for training. However, the personnel in his office were swamped. He couldn’t earmark one full-time position, let alone several employees, for this endeavor. How do you start a huge program without dedicated personnel and with extremely limited funding?
After gathering ideas and concerns from stakeholders, Jonathan shifted the duties of an employee whose job dealt with victim advocates. She would now spend 50% of her time to develop and implement a new training program. They both recognized that this endeavor was greater than one person, so they established a creative team to work with her.
Team members volunteered to participate, even though each had full-time responsibilities elsewhere. Yet a synergy is created when you put forth a vision and give people an opportunity to help achieve it.
In addition, the committee members recognized the importance of the vision. It empowered them – they knew they were starting a new endeavor that would last the test of time. And this enhanced their morale greatly. Plus, highly experienced victims’ advocates served as the committee’s advisory group. In essence, this program was run by one half-time person with multiple volunteers.
The committee created an intensive curriculum with year-round, in-depth trainings. They named this program ADVANCE Academy: Advocates Dedicated to Victims’ Assistance and Continuing Education.
The ADVANCE Academy provides consistent and ongoing training throughout the state of Ohio. Every month, the program offers one or more training courses ranging from ½ day to 3 days. Plus, 2 one-week programs provide off-site training. This program has achieved a statewide impact and has drawn national attention.
The clientele (victims’ advocates) loved the new training program. They were so excited about it, they wrote letters to the Attorney General to underscore their support and appreciation. This robust program is ongoing, offering vital information where there had been a void.
CASE STUDY #3
Revamping a 41-year-old process had startling results: 70% of cases lost transformed to 70% of cases won.
When Jonathan became Assistant Chief of Civil Rights in the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, he met with each of the 12 attorneys who reported to him. They all carried heavy caseloads, and each voiced concerns about inherent difficulties in the process. These attorneys worked with investigators in the Ohio Civil Rights Commission, which investigates allegations of discrimination. If, after an investigation, the Ohio Civil Rights Commission finds probable cause of discrimination, the case is set for a hearing.
The attorneys and investigators often were not on the same page regarding whether a case had sufficient evidence, which cases required a hearing, and so forth.Leadership challenge
The former process had been in place for over 40 years and was deeply entrenched in both agencies’ cultures.
Jonathan led the charge to create a team, the Partnership Committee, comprised of employees from both organizations to examine every step of the process, start to finish. He co-chaired this team with an executive from the Civil Rights Commission.
After examining the current process and the related issues and concerns, the team created the Task Force Initiative. Every case would be reviewed by a team including the investigator, attorney, a supervisor, and an administration support person. The team approach meant each case would receive the expertise of a representative from every group involved.
There was a concern that the new process would not work and would bog down employees’ already heavy case loads. So the Partnership Committee sold the program by conducting presentations to all concerned, showing how this approach would be more streamlined and effective. The committee initiated a successful pilot program. Soon the Task Force Initiative was up and running throughout the State of Ohio.
Before the program, the two agencies lost 70% of the cases that would go to a hearing. After the program, they won 70% of the cases.
Other benefits include:
- A continual learning environment for everyone involved.
- Improved rapport by employees of the two agencies.
- Breaking down the “us-versus-them” walls between the two agencies. The two groups are literally on the same team – in a collective effort – all working together to combat discrimination.
Transform your vision into reality.
As seen in Leadership Excellence Magazine
The Ohio Attorney General’s Innovation and Excellence Award
Jonathan Michael Bowman, Esq., received the Innovation and Excellence Award from Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro for his significant accomplishments for the organization and clients.
One of Jonathan’s employees nominated him and wrote the award language. An excerpt follows:
“Jonathan manages his staff with genuine sincerity and an uncompromised commitment to the improvement of others, both professionally and personally. He is a man of action and expects nothing less of himself than he does of others. His leadership style motivates others to embrace the vision he has for the Crime Victims Services Section and the Attorney General’s Office.”
From the desk of the Ohio Attorneys General
“The success of any organization is dependent upon its leaders. Jonathan Bowman, as a leader in our organization, was a motivator, an innovator, and a visionary, who brought success and achievement to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.”
Former Attorney General of Ohio
“As a direct result of Jonathan’s intellect, personality, and capacity to build collaborations, Jonathan revamped the ineffective investigation process and, as a result, sped up the ability of the state to review complaints and identify real problems which needed to be addressed quickly. That process still remains in effect today. This was an historic restructuring and has made a tremendous difference to the citizens of Ohio.”
Betty D. Montgomery
Former Attorney General of Ohio
Jonathan Michael Bowman, Esq.
Professional Speaker &
Clear Picture Leadership, LLC