Regardless of sector, executives change periodically. They are terminated or retire and a new executive steps in. In the corporate world, the replacement is appointed by the Board or through a succession plan. Usually, the new leader has the same general mission and vision.
Turnover in the corporate world, though, is less frequent and less radical than in governments. Governments have a very predictable cycle, with significant public influence, and a colorful political process. Every few years (two to four in most of the United States), the public has the opportunity to change the government's entire direction. This fosters many behaviors that we do not contend with in corporate life. For example:
- Waiting it out. In hopes that the next election will bring new direction. Elected officials who disagree with a direction have the ability to procrastinate and drag out projects. Just the fact that they can delay its delivery, gives them the fodder that the project is "running late and behind schedule," building their political platform.
- Continual questioning. In a democracy, decisions never seem to be final. Repeatedly questioning direction or impeding progress in a corporate setting gets you fired. In the government, it can be rewarded with re-elected or election to a higher office. The ability to create and sustain roadblocks to success is far easier in the public sector.
- Uncertainty. Even people with the best positive attitudes, working in an environment where there is daily questioning of the direction and uncertainty looming over a project, cannot maintain a positive attitude. Politically contentious projects create demoralized teams. The odds of success plummet.
These factors reduce the public sector project effectiveness, increase their costs, and delay their deployment.