Subscribe to receive our weekly e-flyer or other announcements.


Virtual Book Club: Upstream

Not enough time to attend an in-person SMPS book club? Feeling too much pressure to remember everything you read? Join the SMPS Boston Professional Development Committee on Slack for this members-only virtual book club!

Sign up to “attend” our book club, SMPS will send you copy of the book (hard copy or e-book), and then you will receive an invite to our #bookclub Slack channel. We will host a live discussion of the book via Slack starting April 15. Respond to the discussion questions, share your thoughts on the book, or pose your own questions on how to jump-start your creative brain for a more productive and successful career.

This book club will be reading Upstream: The Quest to Solve Problems Before They Happen by Dan Heath. Upstream explores the mental forces that propel us downstream, which include not preparing for difficulties, and how we can make the switch to an upstream mindset. Readers will learn how to prepare for and prevent problems before they happen as the author draws from insights from hundreds of interviews with unconventional problem solvers.

Amazon Book Summary: New York Times bestselling author Dan Heath explores how to prevent problems before they happen, drawing on insights from hundreds of interviews with unconventional problem solvers.

So often in life, we get stuck in a cycle of response. We put out fires. We deal with emergencies. We stay downstream, handling one problem after another, but we never make our way upstream to fix the systems that caused the problems. Cops chase robbers, doctors treat patients with chronic illnesses, and call-center reps address customer complaints. But many crimes, chronic illnesses, and customer complaints are preventable. So why do our efforts skew so heavily toward reaction rather than prevention?

Upstream probes the psychological forces that push us downstream—including “problem blindness,” which can leave us oblivious to serious problems in our midst. And Heath introduces us to the thinkers who have overcome these obstacles and scored massive victories by switching to an upstream mindset. One online travel website prevented twenty million customer service calls every year by making some simple tweaks to its booking system. A major urban school district cut its dropout rate in half after it figured out that it could predict which students would drop out—as early as the ninth grade. A European nation almost eliminated teenage alcohol and drug abuse by deliberately changing the nation’s culture. And one EMS system accelerated the emergency-response time of its ambulances by using data to predict where 911 calls would emerge—and forward-deploying its ambulances to stand by in those areas.

Upstream delivers practical solutions for preventing problems rather than reacting to them. How many problems in our lives and in society are we tolerating simply because we’ve forgotten that we can fix them?

Due to Amazon delivery delays related to COVID-19, we will only be providing digital and audio book purchases for this book club. Please make your preferred selection during the registration process.


  • Kristin Armitage-Chobot,

    Elkus Manfredi Architects

  • Kelly Brolin,

    CDM Smith

  • Valerie Puchades,

    GUND Partnership

  • Jennifer Monroe,

    Resource Options, Inc.

  • Anna Luciano,

    Nitsch Engineering

  • Suzanne King,

    Mass. Electric Construction Co.

  • lisa Frisbie,

    AGC MA

  • Sarah Gusky Kemer,


  • Andrew Beaton,

    CDM Smith

  • MaKayla Allen,

    Nitsch Engineering

More Upcoming Events