Led by Dan Heath

January – July 2014

What can the Change Academy do for you?

Think of your organization’s top goals for 2014—the ambitious goals, the thorny ones, the goals that you know you need to accomplish, but aren’t quite sure, yet, how you’ll pull it off.

Now picture this: You enroll in a program that’s custom-tailored to help you conquer one of those goals. The program surrounds you with a small cohort of other top-notch leaders and, together, you learn a process for tackling your challenge: How to separate good options from bad ones; how to lead change in difficult circumstances; and how to communicate about your plans (to employees and backers) in effective ways. When the program concludes, not only do you have a specific, well-tested plan to achieve your goals, but you’ve already begun to execute it successfully.

This one-of-a-kind program is called the Duke CASE Change Academy, and we want you to apply. Watch the video to learn more…


Who’s leading the Change Academy?

The Academy will be led by Dan Heath, co-author of the New York Times bestsellers Made to Stick, Switch, and Decisive, and sponsored by the Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship (CASE) at Duke University. Heath is a Senior Fellow at CASE.


When is it?

From January thru July 2014. The program will include 3 in-person sessions hosted at Duke University in Durham, NC:

  • Session 1: Monday, January 6 (8am – 7pm) and Tuesday, January 7 (9a – 3pm)
  • Session 2: Monday, April 14 (8am – 7pm) and Tuesday, April 15 (9am – 3pm)
  • Session 3: Friday, July 18 (8 – 7pm)

Between the sessions, you will have two projects to complete: Project 100 and Project 200. The projects will involve real-world work on your organizational challenge (not made-up or academic assignments). You and Heath will define the projects together.

sessions What happens in the program?

You bring a real-world change challenge that is mission critical for your organization. For instance:

  • We want to boost “kindergarten readiness” in our city.
  • We want to cut the homeless population by half within 3 years.
  • We want to “fall-proof” as many elderly people’s homes in our community as humanly possible.

That’s your input to the program. In the Change Academy, here’s what will happen:

  • Session 1: We explore: What options do you have to achieve your goal? Are there options you haven’t considered? How would you know which option was the right one?
  • Project 100: Back in your home organization, your team gathers a set of evidence, and pursues a set of experiments, that will lead you to a decision about which path to pursue.
  • Session 2: Together we explore: What is the best way to implement the approach you’ve selected? How do we ease the difficulties of change for your staff and constituents?
  • Project 200: Back at home, you’ll begin to roll out the change roadmap in earnest, paying careful attention to certain key diagnostics that we’ll identify together.
  • Session 3: Together we explore: What has worked and what hasn’t? How can we adapt the plan to maximize our chance of success? How can we accelerate the pace of change?

Who can apply?

Nonprofit and for-profit social ventures. Other organizations (corporations, government agencies, churches) are welcome to apply so long as they meet all other conditions. (For more on those conditions, see the video and read the FAQ).

Individuals should not apply.

6 organizations will be accepted into the Change Academy, and 3 people from each organization will be accepted, for a total of 18 participants.

Who should attend from my organization?

Three specific people should attend:

  1. Your top leader (CEO or Executive Director);
  2. The person on the senior leadership team most responsible (other than the CEO) for the change mission you’ve selected;
  3. Someone from the “front lines” of your organization—e.g., a field worker or service provider—who knows the “ground truth.” Preferably it is someone who does not report directly to either of the other two individuals.

What does it cost?

It is free. Yet it is not free. Pay close attention to this explanation:

The fee for the Academy is $2,000 per person (for a total of $6,000 per organization). No travel expenses are included—you must cover flight, hotel, transportation, meals, etc.

The Academy is designed so that your fee will be completely refunded if you participate meaningfully. Specifically, you can “earn back” your fee in the following 3 ways:

  • Homework, pre-Session 1: Upon completion, $500 per person will be earned back;
  • Project 100: Upon completion of the project, $750 per person will be earned back;
  • Project 200: Upon completion of the project, $750 per person will be earned back;

The Homework will take approximately 5-6 hours per person. The two projects will be defined by you and Heath mutually; there will be no surprises. The intent is simply to incentivize you to do what you need to do anyway (i.e., spend effort on a mission-critical change challenge).

What’s the application timeline?

  • November 1: Applications due
  • November 15: Finalists will be notified
  • November 16-30: Calls will be scheduled with finalists
  • December 1: Enrollment decision announced

How will the applications be evaluated?

The applications will be judged on 4 traits:

  • Impact: If you succeed at your change goal, how big of an impact would you make?
  • Organizational strength: How well-positioned is your organization to achieve the challenge?
  • Importance internally:  Do you need to succeed? (I.e., is the goal you’ve identified a true priority and not just a pet project?)
  • Fit: Do we at the Academy think we can contribute meaningfully to your challenge? Do we believe your participation would be an asset to the other organizations in the cohort?

What’s the fine print?

Two things:

1. We will have a draconian attendance policy. We expect all 3 members of your team to show up for every hour of all 5 days. No late arrivals, no early flights out, no ducking out for conference calls. If an emergency causes one member of your team to miss one trip, we will look the other way. Any additional absences beyond that, for any reason, will cause your organization to forfeit 100% of the fees and to be kicked out of the program. (Why are we so heartless about this? Because the slots for the Academy are incredibly scarce. We want to fill them with people who are truly hungry to be part of this. We want people who will make this work their first priority.)

2. Lots of things will be imperfect about this program. This is the inaugural run of an unprecedented type of program. We might not have answers yet to your nitty-gritty questions. We are asking you to be part of a noble experiment. Some things will be great and others will be messy. Sometimes it will be fun and sometimes it will be inconvenient. But make no mistake: Leaders who are admitted to the Academy will have 6 new allies (5
other organizations and 1 instructor) who are committed to helping them succeed. Better yet, the structure of the program will force you to think carefully and systematically about a mission-critical change challenge.

For our best effort to anticipate your questions, see the FAQ.

How do I apply?

The application date for the 2014 Change Academy has passed. If you would like to be kept notified about news and updates related to the 2015 Change Academy, please enter your name, email, and organization below.


If you have questions that aren’t addressed above or in the FAQ,
please email