1) To ensure justice was served as a member of the Jury.
2) To study how the Mission of the criminal trial process is presented and translated from the Organizational Leader, the Judge, down through the “Organization” with the intent of forming a self-managed team, the Jury, capable of efficiently deciding on a unanimous verdict.
In this case study, I’m basing Conclusions on my observations from the situation in relation to the following definition of Leadership:
The ability to influence others to focus their efforts on accomplishing the organizational mission, and continuous improvement, by providing purpose, direction and motivation.
TEAM ORIENTATION- The day began with a video presentation which provided an overview of the process and defined the roles and responsibilities of the members of the organization. For the sake of this conversation, the organization is the court and the members were (not an all-inclusive list):
• The Judge – The Organizational Leader
• Court Clerk- Administrator
• Prosecuting Attorney- Representing the State (The State)
• Defense Attorney- Representing the Defendant (The Defense)
• Bailiff- Facilitator
• Jury Panel- All members summoned to appear for jury duty and charged with making a decision based on the merits of the case presented.
SELF-MANGED TEAM SELECTION- The purpose of the jury-selection step within the overall process was to both clarify the roles and responsibilities of each member of the jury, the values one needed to possess to become a team member and select the individuals who were in alignment with the purpose and values. The Court Clerk randomly selected the prospective jury members. The Judge next presented the Law as it related to the case and asked general questions to determine whether all members were in alignment with it. The Attorneys each, in turn, asked questions to determine if the prospective jury members’ values and attitudes were skewed such that justice might not be served fairly. In other words, they wanted to determine if each member was willing to place the values and purpose of the Court in front of their own personal perceptions of what is right and wrong and make decisions dispassionately and fairly. Prospective jury members who indicated they may not be willing to make a decision based on the facts in relation to the law as it relates to the charges against the defendant, and who were identified as such through further questioning by each attorney, were removed from the team and dismissed for cause. In less than two hours, the team was formed.
It’s important to note that one member of the jury who was not dismissed did communicate initial issues with the subject of the case to be decided but after further questioning neither attorney perceived a skew in values. This situation will affect the jury’s performance later in the process.
SETTING TEAM GOALS- At the beginning of the trial, the Judge provided instructions to the jury with regard to their role. All instructions were designed to make it clear that the jury’s final decision must be based only on the facts and evidence provided and whether the State had presented a case which supported a guilty verdict, beyond a reasonable doubt. Definitions of the terms and legal principles involved in the case were provided.
The State and The Defense offered evidence to support their sides of the argument, which represented a portion of the tools the Jury needed to accomplish the mission.
INTRAGROUP PROCEDURES ARE ESTABLISHED- Throughout the proceedings, the Bailiff provided the Jury members with expectations on conduct inside and out of the court room as well as directions on where to go and when. At the completion of the trial phase, the judge provided further instructions including more definitions of the terms used and provided in the indictment and the case to help facilitate the jury’s reasoning. Instructions on the Jury’s roles and responsibilities were repeated and direction was given to identify a foreman, decide on the matter as well as how the Jury should proceed once they had accomplished the goal of making a unanimous decision.
THE SELF-MANAGED TEAM WORKS TO ACCOMPLISH THE MISSION- The jury was sequestered in a private room, given copies of the instructions and the evidence provided during the trial, and asked to determine the verdict. Only one member communicated the willingness to take on the role and responsibilities so the decision was made quickly. All team members were motivated to make a decision as efficiently as possible.
The Jury foreman next facilitated discussion on the main points of the case which needed to be decided. Initially, it appeared the team was in agreement, however personal values that were not in alignment with the Mission soon were brought to the surface by several members and the foreman made the following observations:
1. Several members did not understand what factors needed to be considered and decided upon. This was evident because discussions often included “what if” scenarios and conjecture those individual members were using to try to make sense of what had really happened. The cause of this behavior was uncertainty created by holes left in the story by both The State and The Defense and those members were not willing to make their decision based on what was known.
2. Several members were not willing to make their decision based on the evidence and facts provided in the trial as they related to the crime the defendant was charged with but rather incorporate their own values into their reasoning.
The foreman recognized that unless all members could fulfill their roles as they were defined by the court, there was a high risk that justice would not be served because the group did not follow the instructions provided by The Judge. The foreman recognized that one member in particular, the Jury member noted earlier, fell into both categories which posed a significant challenge to accomplishing the Mission.
The foreman continued to facilitate discussion, pointing out when members were using “what ifs” and conjecture that was outside of the facts presented in the trial in their reasoning. Because this done in a direct but respectful manner, all members, except the member noted, were able to remove those unrelated factors from their reasoning after several exchanges.
The foreman continued to rebut the misaligned member’s statements with the instructions provided by the Judge and then asked that person to follow them even attempting to use the example of the symbol of justice, depicted on every courtroom wall in America, as a blind person holding a scale; weighing the facts based on reasoning and wearing a blindfold to prevent their personal perceptions and values from skewing their reasoning. After a number of exchanges the foreman recognized that member was unwilling to put on their “blindfold” and serve justice.
As luck would have it, the team’s blind reasoning eventually ended up aligning with the noted member’s personal opinions so a unanimous decision was possible.
OBSERVATIONS- The Jury Deliberation phase of the process lasted less than 90 minutes but it is easy to see that result was largely due to chance. Had the facts and evidence provided in relation to the law the defendant was being charged with breaking not aligned with only one individual’s personal values (the noted member) the Jury, as a self-managed team, may not have been able to fulfill their roles and responsibilities to efficiently accomplish the Mission of the Court.
It is critical to successful Mission accomplishment for Leaders at every level in the Organization to:
1. Clearly state the values and purpose of the Organization and ensure all members are in alignment with them.
2. Provide clear expectations and instructions.
3. Provide the tools needed to accomplish the Mission
4. Make decisions based on facts and data- despite the existence of uncertainty.
In this case, all of the conditions listed above were met, except the first. The Leader of the Organization, The Judge, ensured throughout the process that clear expectations, instruction and the tools needed to make a just decision were provided and available to the team when they needed them. The State and The Defense provided the facts and evidence that would support their respective sides of the issue. The Bailiff provided direction and answered questions with regard to general expectations that weren’t necessarily integral to Mission accomplishment but definitely supported efficient operations. The Jury foreman, as the Leader of the self-managed team, attempted to align all team members in their use the instructions and tools provided by the organizational Leader to facilitate the Team’s performance on their given task. The foreman attempted several attempts at continuous improvement to align one member so that unity of effort could be established however, that member never truly committed to the values and purpose of the organization.
CONCLUSIONS- In the end, a unanimous decision was made which indicates the Organizational Mission was accomplished. However, the efficiency of the self-managed team was compromised by one member’s unwillingness to put their personal values and perceptions aside. The effects one individual can have on team performance cannot be underestimated. If chance had not played such an important role in the results of this case, even more work would have been required to gain the consensus necessary to provide a unanimous decision.
In this case, there was a “defect” in the process. That does not mean the noted jury member was “defective”, it means the condition of alignment in values and purpose was not met so the defect can be defined as “misalignment with the values and purposes of the organization.” Information was provided by the jury member early in the process which indicated the defect was present however the Leaders of both sides of the case, the attorneys, did not fully identify and remove the defect. The result was waste, in the form of unnecessary work on the part of the foreman and other jury members and the additional time required to make to a unanimous decision as a team. While the amount of waste created by this defect was not necessarily significant in the larger scheme of the Organization’s accomplishment of the Mission, it is recognizable as a tangible factor in the team’s ability to perform efficiently.
How do the principles and concepts discussed in his case apply to your situation as a Leader?
What can you do as a Leader to improve your Organization?
VALUE PROPOSITION- Every organization has members who make varying levels of commitment to its values and purpose. Identifying them is not necessarily difficult but recognizing the amount of waste they create can be. One of my greatest strengths is in identifying when there are misalignments between individual values and organizational values, defining them in tangible terms and facilitating the measurement of their effects and development of targeted action plans to improve the organization’s results. I coach willing Leaders through implementation so they can realize positive changes in their teams and reap breakthrough performances.
The solution starts with you.
Lead well, my friends-