Chief Judge Janet DiFiore to Receive Columbia Business School’s Highest Award for Operational Excellence Print


Contributed by Lucian Chalfen, Director of Public Information, New York State Unified Court System

Sep. 11, 2019:  In recognition of her pursuit of excellence throughout the New York State Unified Court System and her adoption of best practices to ensure accountability and eliminate waste and inefficiency systemwide, Chief Judge Janet DiFiore is among the 2019 recipients of the prestigious Columbia Business School’s Deming Cup ̶ an honor traditionally reserved for leaders in the for-profit business world. Chief Judge DiFiore is the first government official to receive the Deming Cup in its ten-year history.  

The award, inspired by the late Dr. W. Edwards Deming’s management philosophy focusing on quality and innovation, is presented annually to honor individuals for their outstanding contributions to promote excellence in operations and foster a culture of continuous improvement within their organizations.

Since her appointment as Chief Judge in 2016, Judge DiFiore has worked tirelessly to promote the goals of her signature Excellence Initiative to improve case management, reduce case backlogs, increase productivity and enhance the delivery of justice for New Yorkers.

Under her leadership, the court system has made dramatic strides in eliminating case backlogs in all levels of courts in every part of the State, including New York City’s high-volume courts. Her emphasis on innovation, education and accountability as an organizational way of life is achieving extraordinary results, leading to lower litigation costs and better court outcomes for individual litigants and New York’s broader communities.

“It is a great honor to be chosen for this prestigious award. I proudly accept this honor on behalf of the entire New York State court system ̶ its judges, judicial and non-judicial managers and 15,000-strong workforce. To receive this award along with leaders of some of our nation’s major business corporations demonstrates that sound management practices and intensive focus on productivity and efficiency can lead to excellence and the highest level of service not only in private sector companies but in government organizations as well,” said Chief Judge DiFiore.

The 2019 Deming Cup will be presented by Columbia Business School’s W. Edwards Deming Center for Quality, Productivity and Competitiveness at a ceremony on Tuesday, October 22, 2019.

This year’s other winners are Best Buy CEO Hubert Joly and UPS Chairman and CEO David Abney. The recipients were selected by a 41-member judging committee comprising eminent figures in business and academia, co-chaired by former Secretary of the US Treasury Paul O’Neill, former CEO of IBM Sam Palmisano and former Macy’s, Inc. CEO Terry Lundgren.

In congratulating this year’s recipients, Professor Nelson Fraiman, director of the Deming Center commended them for “creating efficiency-fueled, employee-empowered and excellence-driven establishments,” adding, “Driven by the ethos of continuous improvement, these diverse organizations are poised for long-term success, affirming the growing relevance of W. Edwards Deming’s principles across the private and public sectors.”  

Pictured here: Janet DiFiore. 

Photo courtesy Lucian Chalfen, Director of Public Information, New York State Unified Court System

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