In September I had the privilege of addressing the Annual Judicial Conference, on changes facing the judiciary. Two themes were the growing significance of litigants presenting special challenges - children, the unrepresented, the Limited English Proficient, the mentally impaired, the elderly, and so on; and the diminishing significance of tort litigation as part of the state court caseload. I suggested that judges embrace their growing role as gatekeepers to services and sorters of troubled humanity, and that they should expect, and be expected, to operate as problem-solving judges and not only in the traditional, adversarial mold.
A great resource for judges on how to facilitate positive change and achieve better outcomes, is "Building a Better Collaboration - Facilitating Change in the Court and Child Welfare System," an NCJFCJ Technical Assistance Bulletin, which is not available online to my knowledge. In addition to basics of child welfare law, the book goes through learning organizations ala Peter Senge; leadership in general and judicial leadership in particular; creating a collaborative, problem-solving culture; using effective meetings and communication; the importance of data and evaluation; and the strategic achievement of planning, effecting and sustaining change. It is a digestible and yet complete guide to what we know about moving groups of well-meaning humans through a deliberative and synergistic process of improvement. For the Shared Solutions Summit and in general when pondering this work, I boil down the method into Leadership, [multidisciplinary] Collaboration, and Data.