Change Action: A 12-Step Process

This page is archived material and is no longer updated. It may contain outdated information and broken links. The material presented on these pages is the product of five regional symposia held on restorative justice between June 1997 and January 1998.

Key words to remember about a change process:

  • Communication, communication, communication
  • Involvement and access to decisionmaking
  • Persistence by the leadership
  1. Gain Information. Read and learn as much as you can about restorative justice. Understand the concept well enough that you can introduce it properly, and be able to set the tone for the rest of the agency to want to hear more about it. Recognize that a comprehensive change process will take a long time, and that every agency is doing some restorative practice now. The intent is to make your agency more restorative over time, to examine your existing beliefs about the purpose of crime intervention, and to shape your practice so that it more closely reflects restoration. 
  2. Provide Introductory Training. Arrange for initial training for all staff, not just management. Make sure that the management team has gained early knowledge about restorative justice before the training is offered to others. The managers' perceptions of the concept and initial training is key to how open others will be in being open minded. Be careful who you select for doing the training, and in its timing. Early, negative impressions can be difficult to overcome. 
  3. Set Up a Planning Team(s). Once the initial training is completed, and it is clear that the concept has some merit for possible implementation in your agency, set up one or more planning teams. These teams should be made up of a vertical slice of your agency. Multiple teams may be advisable depending on the type and size of your agency. Including representatives from services to the three customers (victims, offenders, and the community are extremely important). This feedback can come from direct participation on the planning team, focus groups, or other means. Decide whether to keep the planning only to your agency, or to include other stakeholders. If you select an internal-only team, decide how you will get other agency involvement. Select a chairperson(s) who does not have some hidden or overt agenda that would prevent a candid and frank discussion of the issues. 
  4. Conduct an Organizational Audit. An audit of your existing agency practices can identify what additional or enhanced restorative practices can be added, at the same time it reinforces existing restorative activities. Make sure the audit is conducted by multiple disciplines and employee status to ensure that a cross representative sample gives you a fuller picture of the perceived state of affairs. 
  5. Determine Readiness for Chanage. Assess how ready your agency, or the justice system as a whole, is for change. Examine what forces exist which support the possible change, and which resist the change. Determine how the different stakeholders might respond to the changes. This analysis will help you prepare a strategic plan for initiating action steps. 
  6. Provide Additional, More Targeted Training. Introductory restorative justice training is rarely enough. Usually, many questions and struggles arise after efforts to understand and implement the concept are attempted. Additional training that is specific to the agency's unique needs will provide targeted technical assistance. 
  7. Develop an Action Plan. The planning teams will devise a number of possible actions to be considered for implementation. The action steps can be organized into an action plan that specifically details what the agency hopes to accomplish in the months to come. That plan provides the agency with a type of vision that helps guide resource allocation and prioritization. 
  8. Develop a Strategy and Timelines. The action plan should have realistic timelines and specific strategies to ensure successful implementation. Preferably, it will include action steps which guarantee early success. The strategies will need to be revised as unexpected events and perceptions arise. 
  9. Review and Revise Agency Mission and Outcome Measures. Early changes in the agency practices can occur without whole-scale changes in the mission. Over time, however, it will become evident to most agencies that the existing agency mission needs changes to reflect the emerging restorative practices and values. In addition, the specific outcome measures (which reflect why the agency exists) will need to be changed. As the outcomes change, more of the agency resources and attention will be directed to the new mission. 
  10. Redefine Agency Values, Roles, Supports, and Expectations. Staff will need a great deal of additional information about how the agency expectations are changing. They need to know what values are espoused, what roles they are to play, what new expectations exist, and how they can get support. Without clarification, staff will be confused as to how to prioritize their time, and what additional skills they need to acquire. In essence, the organizational culture will have changed, which creates anxiety. This culture change will likely disturb relationships, job security, individual competence, and other concerns. 
  11. Review and Revise Job Descriptions and Reward System. A complete organizational culture change requires that the leadership review the reward system. People gravitate to that which is rewarding to them, to what they gain some value from. This includes at least their relationship/recognition of their supervisor and peers, and their financial compensation. 
  12. Evaluate the New Practices. The changes must be evaluated to determine whether the new outcomes are being met. Upon this evaluation, the processes, policies, and programs can be refined in order to make further improvements.

Remember the "Re-" Factor: Each step above will need to be redone at some time (re-learned, re-audited, re-planned, re-determined, re-developed, etc.), the number of times dependent on the extent to which restorative justice practices and values do not coincide with existing organizational culture, values, and practices.

Date Created: December 4, 2007