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This website was created by the OECD Observatory of Public Sector Innovation (OPSI), part of the OECD Public Governance Directorate (GOV).

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LAB JUSTICE – Innovation and Culture Program

Lab Justica-Protocolo

LAB Justice is the first executive education program, tailor-made for the Justice sector. With a customized learning journey, it was designed to help people working for Justice bodies address the challenges faced to deliver more efficient and people-centred services. Focused on three main areas – strategic management, digital transition and leadership in a context of change –, it aims to ensure the necessary skills to implement reform measures, namely those under the Recovery and Resilience Plan

Innovation Summary

Innovation Overview

Since the first decade of this century, Justice has been one of the areas most invested in the digital transition. Portugal was one of the first countries to implement electronic proceedings in the courts and to provide integrated service desks, such as the “On the Spot firm” or the “One-Stop House” service.

The increasing challenge to keep up with digital evolution as well as answering citizens' heightened expectations towards services sets the ground to go even further, moving towards a more People-centred model of delivering services. In the justice sector, these changes must be translated into technology innovations (better management tools; better interfaces for magistrates, secretariats, citizens and their representatives; more task automation; and more integrated services for businesses and citizens, among many other improvements); but also by ensuring that our human resources are at the centre of change by supporting the transfer and development of the necessary skills and knowledge into our organisations.

This enhanced ambition to accelerate innovation while consolidating the capacity to respond to a fast-changing world implies a change of culture and ways of thinking that go far beyond using and managing technologies. This means that innovation is not only about digital transition it is also, or mainly, about culture and people. At the same time, it is of utmost importance to overcome the hurdles in the execution of reforms and projects within the public sector, specifically in terms of their governance models and, due to internal human resources, skills or knowledge constraints, the dependency on external services to execute projects, which brings along problems of ownership and commitment.

Thus, to address these challenges and to promote a successful change that comes from the inside of the organisations, the Portuguese Ministry of Justice signed the first agreement with two of the major business schools in Portugal (Lisbon School of Economics and Management – ISEG and Nova School of Business and Economics – NovaSBE) to organize the Justice LAB, the first executive education program created from scratch and specifically designed to meet the real and current challenges of bodies and entities in the area of Justice.

Focused on three main areas (strategic management, digital transition and leadership in a context of change), Justice LAB is an advanced program of innovation and culture to develop the resources and skills that guarantee the operationalization of change and innovation. It will promote governance models with the right management incentives, will provide support on how to incorporate emerging technologies (such as artificial intelligence), manage information and assure transparency, as well as to provide organizational frameworks on how to involve managers and employees throughout the decision-making cycle, from designing to executing change processes. In the end, the goal is to instil in the participants a culture of innovation and act as a catalyst of change to deliver more agile, effective and accessible public services, centred on the needs of people and businesses.

The unique character of the Justice LAB lies in the fact that the Program changes the public sector project cycle paradigm, moving from a “top-down” approach, with the PA bodies being mere executors of projects prepared at the political level, and for which teams of external consultants are often hired to carry them out, to a paradigm that also values “bottom-up” approaches and fosters “ownership” of the bodies, i.e., where the entities are committed to the design and management of projects, with less dependence external competence to carry them out.

The program offers Justice bodies the opportunity to develop a Digital Transformation strategy that not only focuses on the incorporation of technology or the mere digitization of procedures hitherto carried out on paper, but a new fully-fledged organizational governance strategy, one that includes reengineering of processes, an agile technology architecture management, as well as the development of technical and management skills of the people responsible for operationalizing them.

The Justice LAB is being developed within the Justice Hub, a shared workspace that aims to promote cross-team collaboration and project-based work, by joining multidisciplinary teams from different justice entities and from other public administration areas, as well as external teams, and putting project managers, designers, and development teams working together on modernisation and innovation initiatives.

The Justice LAB and Justice HUB will mutually feed one another, offering a combination of high-quality learning with a space to experiment and collaborate that will have a long-term impact far beyond the current implementation of the RRP and will facilitate the necessary internal critical mass to enable organizations to consistently align and deliver long-term government and programs.

Innovation Description

What Makes Your Project Innovative?

  • For the first time in the area of Justice, the responsibility for executing projects with EU funding is associated with training on how to induce innovation and change necessary for this purpose;
  • Designed according to the real challenges in the Justice area which need, e.g. to incorporate emerging technologies to manage information and their transparency;
  • Focused on 3 areas that emphasize the attributes of problem-solving;
  • Changes the paradigm of the project cycle in the public sector: from an approach in which the public bodies are mere executors without being involved in their design, and for which external consultants are hired to implement them, to a paradigm of internalization of competencies and project ownership, being committed to the entire project life cycle;
  • An innovative training method which involves the combination of strategic planning and immersive sessions, with elements of practical application throug group projects and collaboration experiences

What is the current status of your innovation?

After the process of identifying the internal problems within the entities in the area of Justice and developing ideas and options on how to enhance the internal project management process, the Program is now in its implementation stage. The first edition of this unique training experience, targeting first the C-suite level, is already underway. The Justice LAB kick-off took place on October 17th, 2022 and the program will last 6 months

Innovation Development

Collaborations & Partnerships

The Program is delivered by two Academic Partners, the Lisbon School of Economics and Management (ISEG) and Nova School of Business and Economics (Nova SBE) and counts with the participation of one hundred leaders and project managers from eighteen governmental bodies in the area of Justice in Portugal.

Users, Stakeholders & Beneficiaries

This first edition of LAB Justice is intended for leaders and project managers in the Justice sector, namely in the technological area, but also for managers from other areas in which we have identified the need for teamworking, knowledge and project management. We plan to extend this program to other profiles and needs, in articulation with the horizontal skills programmes for public innovation.
The Program will also leverage the Justice HUB, a centre dedicated to promote innovation in the publ

Innovation Reflections

Results, Outcomes & Impacts

As mentioned before, the LAB Justice initiative has started very recently, and it is planned to be concluded in March 2023. So, it is still too soon to observe its impacts. During the program, the satisfaction of participants will be measured through questionnaires.

In the future, it is expected that this initiative will contribute not only to reinforcing the Justice bodies teams’ skills but also to help them find new approaches to operationalize innovation and change. By gathering one hundred professionals from 18 Justice bodies, it is also expected that this intensive education programme facilitates networking, and thus enhances collaboration and knowledge sharing.

Challenges and Failures

Given the ambitious agenda of reforms and projects of the Recovery and Resilience Plan for the Justice sector, it is urgent to overcome difficulties in the execution of projects, namely in terms of governance models, knowledge management and the commitment to achieve the proposed goals.

Current governance models do not provide the necessary tools to adequately encourage managers and experts to get involved and commit throughout the life cycle of projects, thereby it is common for the externalization of competencies for the execution of these projects. So, training that develops the skills and critical mass that guarantee the operationalization of change and innovation from within is crucial.

Conditions for Success

The political will to invest in the capacitation of human resources and the financial resources to establish a partnership with two of the major business and management schools were the main conditions to successfully implement this innovation.


The program was customized to adapt the academic content to the reality of justice. The customization of content in the fields of strategic management, digital transition and leadership in a context of change is also transferable to various areas of governance and public administration. The methodology of the Program is, therefore, appealing not only for its strong practical component but also for being good practice in executive training for the Public Sector, in a transversal way. It can be adapted to the reality of organizations at different levels in Portugal, from local and central administration, as replicated by other public administrations/authorities in the EU and international context.

In this regard, we are already preparing new editions of this program, with a decentralized focus (i.e. taking place outside Lisbon), in order to make the initiative accessible to employees and services that are not located in Lisbon.

Lessons Learned

As mentioned before, the LAB Justice initiative has started very recently and it is still ongoing, so it is still too soon to take lessons.

Anything Else?

We would also like to reinforce the fact we are already planning new editions of the Justice LAB program, with a decentralized focus (i.e. taking place outside Lisbon), in order to make the initiative accessible to employees and services that are not located in Lisbon.

This matters because not only will we be involving other prestigious educational institutions, located outside the country's capital, but we will also be expanding the program to include more participants and new subjects, ensuring that all justice personnel will have the opportunity to improve their skills and have an active role the innovation and digital transformation process underway in the area of Justice in Portugal.