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How to Triple the Success Rate of Government Transformations

According to a survey of nearly 3,000 public officials across 18 countries, part of this landmark study undertaken by the McKinsey Center for Government (MCG), around 80 percent of government efforts to transform unfortunately fail to fully meet their objectives. The failure rate of government transformations represents a huge missed opportunity to tackle society’s greatest challenges more effectively and deliver better services for citizens. MCG estimates that were governments globally to match the rate of their most improved peers, they could save as much as $3.5 trillion a year by 2021 while maintaining today’s levels of service quality. Alternatively, they could release funds to strengthen high-priority services while keeping overall government expenditure constant.

The MCG study includes insights from 80 transformation cases and 30 in-depth interviews with leaders who have personally driven transformations in government. Using these insights MCG identified five disciplines that together can more than triple the chances of success of government transformations. They may seem obvious, but MCG’s research shows that they are extremely difficult to get right. MCG calls them the five Cs:

1. Committed leadership.
2. Clear purpose and priorities.
3. Cadence and coordination in delivery.
4. Compelling communication.
5. Capability for change.