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More than a third of large organizations have some type of transformation program underway at any given time, and many launch one major change initiative after another. Though they kick off with a lot of fanfare, most of these efforts fail to deliver. Only 12% produce lasting results, and that figure hasn’t budged in the past two decades, despite everything we’ve learned over the years about how to lead change.

Clearly, businesses need a new model for transformation. In this article, the authors present one based on research with dozens of leading companies that have defied the odds, such as Ford, Dell, Amgen, T-Mobile, Adobe, and Virgin Australia. The successful programs, the authors found, employed six critical practices: treating transformation as a continuous process; building it into the company’s operating rhythm; explicitly managing organizational energy; using aspirations, not benchmarks, to set goals; driving change from the middle of the organization out; and tapping significant external capital to fund the effort from the start.