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In 2008, McKinsey surveyed some 3,200 executives around the globe and found that only about one third of all change initiatives succeed.

In fact, it can be argued that this number is probably even lower, since “success” means different things to different people and humans are not terribly forthcoming with acknowledging failures.

I believe that most fiascos are attributable to the lack of accountability, a key ingredient of leadership. Being an instigator of change is not a comfortable position, as change itself is uncomfortable and, often, disruptive. To instigate change means abandoning the safety of the status quo, something that only strong leaders who feel responsible for the end result can be motivated to do on their own. Accountability can also be imposed externally (e.g. by the owner making the CEO responsible for the end result).

Strong leadership is always in short supply. The ownership of large corporations is dispersed among many shareholders who cannot demand accountability on their own, while corporate boards have proven to be ineffective. In public sector, taxpayers, likewise,  have few means of instilling the sense of accountability.

And since the perfectly effective governance is probably an utopian notian at this point, yet again it all seems to boil down to the question of strong leadership.

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