Innovating for Justice, A Reverse Thinking Process

133494_10150115549352754_7328551_oIn 2011, an event changed the legal system in Mexico, it changed the way residents see the legal system, and it changed how the legal system itself works, as a consequence of that event. All started with the creative thinking of a pair of pro-bonus advocates defending a prosecuted young man accused for murder. Here is the story, from which a useful thinking system can be taken as a take-away.

Toño was released from jail because of the video recording of the legal process
It is commonly said (and agreed) that innovation originates and accelerates business growth by generating new products, services, processes, and business models that help organisations to reach new markets and to reach them in a better way.
In the same track, it is rarely thought that innovation could be deployed in the practice of law. And there is an obvious reason for that.
The objectives of law are to maintain civil order and social harmony by establishing balance between conflicting interests in the society and to maintain society stable. Rules (codes and procedures) are the base of this and rules should be strictly followed to achieve the objectives. So, how to innovate in law without disrupting the ethical and civil roots of the legal systems of societies? Or even without being put apart from the system for ignoring settled mechanisms?   We could even raise the question “why to try”?
Well, a possible answer for that might be “for justice”.
This is the story: 
 
It has been released a documentary film about the case of a falsely accused and actually imprisoned young guy in Mexico. The documentary is a specific and detailed narrative of the entire legal process followed by his advocates to reach the final freedom sentence. The process lasted 2 years (with our falsely accused imprisoned) of fighting against a complicated and complex legal system in Mexico within which’s system of dispensation of justice, opposite to other legal systems in the world, a person is guilty until the opposite can be proved. This system has ruled Mexican justice for long time. And so far, it’s a sad and frustrating reality that there are many falsely accused prisoners in Mexican (and in the whole world) jails.
Toño Zuñiga, was one of these many cases. Probably the luckiest one.
His advocates, experienced Mexican lawyers with deep understanding of the system and tired of obscure, secretive, and unfair acts of irresponsibility from “insiders” of such system, deployed a genius act of innovation in his trial.
Looking for finally generate impact in Mexican society and keen to take their efforts to an ultimate common claim for justice from society, the lawyers decided to go beyond laws and traditional approaches. Without changing, altering, or tricking the system they won the case and the lack (because it never existed) of proper evidence played its roll by giving back his freedom to an innocent man.
The context:
What did the lawyers do? They knew it was unlikely to win by playing a game in which odds were all against them (as it has been for people lacking economic resources to get a powerful defence) so they went INNOVATIVE.
Simple: thinking about a way to change the odds and putting them in their side, they appealed to the moral “side” of the issue and bravely decided to video record the legal process and make a professional documentary film.
Apparently shooting video in Mexican legal courts is not forbidden, so they went with this attempt and succeeded.
The innovation:
First of all, this had never been done before.
Secondly, no one had ever thought about using a camera as a means to claim “formal” legal justice (video-cameras have been successfully used to claim social justice plenty of times, but never in a Mexican formal trial). Thirdly, they went farther and produced a film with the scenes they shot. Here a point worth to clarify, the cameras were evidently present during the shooting, never hidden.
So, what is the effect of shooting a legal process so it (the shooting) can actually affect the result of a legal procedure? I really don’t know. I would say the social pressure that the “exposed” participants from within the system, were put under.
Said by the co-director (also a lawyer) of the film: Toño was released from jail because of the video recording of the legal process”, Hence my assumption.
This is a great “simple” act of innovation. THEY ARE LAWYERS!
The process. How to do it.
What I can take from this revealing story about innovation is: The shift of thinking level from this brilliant team of lawyers.
When aiming to solve a problem, it is very important to avoid falling in the cycle of repeating different versions of the same attempt, which is a very common practice given how deep we can go in our own ideas looking for such wanted solution –we unconsciously narrow our perspective of reality closing our minds to other possibilities out of that narrow view we generated- . 
The ability to stop and get out of this vice and then having an overall look from a different perspective can make the difference. In other words, (so you can give importance to this idea): You can never solve a problem on the same level of thinking on which it was created. Albert Einstein.
This shift of thinking can give us the clarity to find what I call “the breaking point”.

Problems have certain levels of complexity that we need to fight to find some clarity on the way to solve them and reach our goal. So the solving process follows a path, in which the progress can get as long as long it would take us to beat complexity. Once we have beaten complexity, the way to the goal turns clearer and hence, faster. The way to the goal is comprised by tasks to be done, the higher the complexity the higher the number of tasks to execute.  This said, the sooner we can get to “the breaking point” the shorter and clearer our way to our goal will get.
The figure below represents these possible ways to get from our problem, to our desired goal. 
clarity_complex_way
We start facing the problem from its highest level of complexity and its lowest level of clarity, aiming to take it down to a clearer scenario to solve it. The red arrow shows the traditional ways. With many tasks on it due to the complexity.  The complexity might be turning down, but clarity doesn’t seem to increase a lot. This because it’s the same old traditional attempt so no new results can be expected. As soon as we get to the lowest level of complexity, the way gets simpler (less tasks to execute) and faster. All way down to the goal.
For the innovative path (green line), after getting to the breaking point in this case in the second task, complexity gets decreased and clarity is found, because we are pursuing a solution from a different set of mind, which takes the problem to a brighter and simpler way towards the goal.
All problems start with the highest level of complexity, the breaking point can be found on the second point, or later, but it will always shift the path towards a clearer way to the goal.
The shift of thinking can be seen this way
clarity_complex_shifting
The Sequence:
A method to get to the breaking point is to think beyond the mere goal and to visualise the IMPACT the success of our attempt will achieve.
Once the impact or impacts are defined, it is necessary to think about any ways (methods or tools) that could be useful to achieve this impact or impacts
regardless their specific field because these ways (methods or tools) might give us the arms to fight the complexity of our problem and take us to our desired level of clarity and hence, to the goal. This method or tool will be the solution to get to the goal. It is necessary as well, to start  with a neat  understanding of what are we fighting against, in the way of what hurdles are we facing. 
Look to the figure 3.
Reverse thinking process M
In the particular case of “Presunto Culpable” (name of the documentary in Spanish  “Presumed Guilty”) the process can be pictured in the following sequence.

Reverse thinking Tono

 

While fighting a robust system, the team foresaw the impact of their case, and once having taken their thoughts to the social arena, they took tools used in previous social and moral issues and brought them into the legal system. That was their breaking point, so they broke the complexity and gained clarity, not only for them, or for Toño, but for a whole nation and maybe beyond.
The boldness of the lawyers resulted in 3 incredible and admirable benefits:     
    1. Toño was always innocent and now is free.
    2. The documentary was released internationally and had been awarded by thirteen different film categories in several countries
    3. A whole nation (and hopefully its legal ineffective system too) was shacked with information its people always should have known. They educated a complete country. Invaluable.
This is a clear and genius example about how innovation is reachable in our daily lives. Is not about being and expert, or even trying to be innovative per se, is about widening our thinking and to look around. Even better is the fact (now proved by this film) that rules can definitively be bended and in some cases even just ignored…..and yet succeed! if you find your breaking point.
look at our infographic of the scheme to apply your own reverse thinking process here, and suscribe if you found this interesting.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *