Changing a company is tough: only about 40% of transformation programs succeed, according to McKinsey research. But some change programs have a better chance than others: defensive transformations (those undertaken to stem trouble) have lower success rates than progressive ones (launched, for instance, to boost growth or to move from good to great performance). Trigger events matter, too. Some change programs are initiated proactively, while others are undertaken in reaction to external shocks, market pressure, or poor financial performance. Our research finds that most successful transformations are those that are both offensive and proactive — we call them “progressive” — which have a 47% success rate. Defensive transformations have a 34% rate of success.