Accelerating Change Blog

Leading Successful Change: 8 Keys to Making Change Work

Why do as many as 75% of change initiatives fail? This is the question that Leading Successful Change: 8 Keys to Making Change Work, my book co-authored with Gregory P. Shea, set out to answer.

In February 2020, Wharton School Press published the revised and updated edition of our original 2013 edition. As the pace of change increases daily, it is more vital than ever to be able to design successful change. Updated for 2020 and beyond, Leading Successful Change draws on our combined 50 years of experience working with diverse organizations and features new case studies and examples—such as Twitter, the Conference of State Bank Supervisors, and Viacom—to help the leaders of today navigate the challenges of tomorrow and create lasting change.

We demonstrate that change—real change—means changing behavior. Making behavioral change stick means changing the work environment or, more precisely, the eight systems that make up the work environment. We call these the 8 Levers of Change.


  • The two tenets for making successful change: focus on the behavior you want from people and design the work environment to foster those behaviors
  • How to create a scene that will provide a vision of the future
  • The 8 Levers of Change: a method for designing the work environment to support your vision
  • How winning companies—from Twitter and IKEA to a hospital near you—are successfully implementing change

Especially now, change is not optional, and it is difficult—but it is not impossible. We hope our book can serve as a design guide for your next change initiative.

Read an excerpt on Knowledge@Wharton about how Viacom worked the Levers of Change to create a strategic plan to help the company bridge silos and acquisitions and be ready for the digital age.

Buy the book