Dan Heath


UPSTREAM: The Quest to Solve Problems Before They Happen

Location: Bomhard Theater | 9:00 - 10:15 AM 

So often in our organizations and communities, we fall into a cycle of reaction. A problem happens, and we respond. We fight fires. We contend with emergencies. Researchers call this "tunneling": We don't see the big picture, and we don't think about the future, we just keep pushing forward from one crisis to the next. What if instead, we could shift our energies upstream -- uncovering and addressing the source of those problems? 

In this talk, Heath will reveal how some leaders have learned to spot problems in advance: There's a school district that can predict which students will drop out -- 4 years before graduation. There's an internet service company that can predict which customers are likely to cancel their subscriptions -- as early as two weeks after they sign up! When we shift from downstream response to upstream planning, it can cause miracles: One company eliminated 25 million customer support calls by asking, "How can we make sure our customers never need to call us?" And one nation in Europe has almost eliminated teenage substance abuse by asking, "How can we create a teenage culture that offers such compelling sober activities that teens simply don't feel like drinking or doing drugs?"

Heath will share the three forces that push us downstream, as well as the powerful levers we can use to start preventing problems before they happen.

About Dan Heath


He’s been named one of the world’s 50 most influential management thinkers and one of the most creative people in business. Dan Heath co-wrote four of the most-loved business books of the past decade: Made to Stick, Switch, and Decisive, and The Power of Moments (all four were New York Times best-sellers). He’s a senior fellow at Duke University’s CASE center and will be sharing how leaders can stop being so reactive and start solving problems before they happen.

Dan is an entrepreneur, having founded Thinkwell, an innovative education company that will celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2017. 

He has delivered keynotes or workshops for teachers, police chiefs, U.S. senators, interior designers, Navy admirals, health care leaders, marketers, ministers, and countless executive teams, across 26 countries on 6 continents. (He’s still waiting for that invitation from Antarctica.)

Dan has a Master of Business Administration degree from the Harvard Business School, and lives in Durham, North Carolina. 

Dan and his brother Chip Heath have co-authored the following best-selling business titles: