Justice innovation is a marathon.

Justice innovation is a marathon. 22 October 2013

A team a five from HiiL ran 128 kms in total - four half marathons and full marathon - during the Hague Peace Marathon, held as part of the 100 Years of the Peace Palace celebrations.

As I was running the last 10 kilometres of my marathon, I had a profound insight that I felt in all my muscles. Justice innovation is a marathon. And boy - did I feel my muscles.

  1. It takes its time. And then even longer than you think. Just as there is no 'quick (half) marathon', there is also no 'quick justice innovation'. It takes time to train well in advance. And 42 km seems like an eternity when you're running it. Justice innovation needs to be caught in the strict timelines and deadlines that projects require. But getting it all right may not work that way.
  2. There are no shortcuts. You need to run every single step. In training. And during the race. Early in the morning. After work. That's the only way. You can't cheat by getting on a bike or steeling a ride in a car. Justice innovation is like that. It takes trying, trying again. Making mistakes. Learning from them. Trying again. Arguing with legislation. With vested interests. Overcoming budget challenges.
  3. It takes leadership and determination, with all that needs to be overcome. A vision that must be kept in mind when the alarm bell goes off at 6 am and when your body screams for you to stop at two-thirds of the distance. Similarly: leadership and a vision of gain & glory - somewhere out there - must be kept in sight when the process to the end goal runs into resistance again, when a promised budget runs out, when part of the team is about to throw in the towel, and when the first prototype does not work as well as you hoped and you know you'll have to explain a few things to someone higher up.
  4. A lot of things must go well together. Some of these you can't control. The weather, the route, and whether your shoe laces don't loosen. Others you have more control over. The team that keeps you doing. Your partner who encourages you on. Your training buddy. The friends that cheer you along and give you water along the route. Your own leadership and grit is not enough. You need others. For all those other things that also need to go well. So it is with justice innovation. A parliamentarian who supports your idea. A civil servant that willing to go to bat against the odds. The diversity in your innovation team, bringing all perspectives to the table.
  5. There is gain & glory at the end, when it all comes together and you have reached the finish line. But it takes a while to sink in. A marathon is not one single cathartic moment. It's all those many things together.

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