ECONOMICS

Upstream: The Quest To Solve Problems Before They Happen

Avid Reader: S. & S. Mar. 2020. 320p. ISBN 9781982134723. $30. BUS
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Heath (Duke Univ. CASE Knowledge Ctr.), who has coauthored four books with his brother Chip Heath, e.g., Made To Stick, here writes a solo work about moving “upstream” to get at the source of problems before they occur. Using examples such as an online travel company’s plans to decrease customer service complaints, Heath shows how the principles of upstream thinking are applied to achieve positive results, and how this approach has been used to prevent or ameliorate issues. The approach involves getting buy-in from a variety of stakeholders who work together to examine a problem from all angles, assess multiple data points, and tackle the issue in a concerted fashion.
VERDICT Many of the situations addressed in this book--from customer service to crime to chronic illness--are daunting. Yet, the commitment and ingenuity used to tackle the issues are nothing less than inspirational. Every organization could benefit from upstream thinking.

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