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Related PeopleJerry Sternin , Monique Sternin , Richard Pascale 
External LinksPositive Deviance Website 
Positive Deviance Book 
Anecdote blog post on Positive Deviance 
Basic Field Guide to the Positive Deviance Approach 
Fast Compnay article on Positive Deviance 
HBR podcast on Positive Deviance 
Article in the Independent newspaper 
Article in Boston Globe 
WikipediaPositive Deviance
del.icio.us Tags positive deviance 
Flickr Photo Tags positive deviance 

Positive Deviance is an approach to behavioral and social change based on the observation that in every community there are individuals or groups of people (so called Positive Deviants) whose behaviours and strategies enable them to find better solutions to problems than their peers even though they have access to the same resources and face similar challenges.

In the international development and health sectors, PD has been used to address issues as diverse as childhood malnutrition, neo-natal mortality, girl trafficking, school drop-out, female genital mutilation (FGM), MRSA infections in hospitals and HIV/AIDS.

PD is best understood by the following story:
PD was first applied by Jerry and Monique Sternin through their work with Save the Children in Vietnam in the 1990s.

At the start of the pilot 64% of children in the pilot villages were malnourished.

Through a PD inquiry, the villagers found poor parents in the community that had well-nourished children.

They went on to discover that these families were feeding their children foods that other villagers considered inappropriate; they washed their children’s hands before meals, and actively fed them three to four times a day instead of the typical two meals a day.

It was these simple “deviant behaviours” that made all the difference but instead of simply telling parents what to do differently (or creating a best practice document!), they helped the villagers design a program to act their way into a new way of thinking.

To attend a feeding session, parents were required to bring one of the newly identified foods. They brought their children and while sharing meals, learned to cook the new foods.

At the end of the two year pilot, malnutrition fell by 85%.
An amazing outcome! And think about it: the villagers were allowed to discover this for themselves; no nutritional experts were involved and no extra resources were needed. The “solution” was sustainable.

The PD approach is best suited to problems that require behaviour and social change. It is based on the following principles:
  • Communities already have the solutions to the problems they face and they are the best people to solve them.
  • Communities have the people and the ability to self-organize to respond effectively to a common problem.
  • Know-how is not concentrated in the leadership of a community or in external experts but is distributed throughout the community. Thus the aim of PD is to draw out the collective knowledge to apply to a specific problem requiring behaviour or social change.
  • The PD approach enables the community to seek and discover sustainable responses to a given problem because the demonstrably successful but not widely adopted behaviours are already practiced in the community.
  • It is easier to change behaviour by practicing it rather than being taught about it. “It is easier to act your way into a new way of thinking than think your way into a new way of acting”
You can learn more about Positive Deviance on the Positive Deviance website or from the book The Power of Positive Deviance by Richard, Pascale, Jerry Sternin and Monique Sternin.


Video: Positive Deviance Video Playlist



A collection of videos on Positive Deviance.

Positive Deviance (PD) is an approach to behavioral and social change based on the observation that in every community there are individuals or groups of people (so called Positive Deviants) whose behaviours and strategies enable them to find better solutions to problems than their peers even though they have access to the same resources and face similar challenges.

In the international development and health sectors, PD has been used to address issues as diverse as childhood malnutrition, neo-natal mortality, girl trafficking, school drop-out, female genital mutilation (FGM), MRSA infections in hospitals and HIV/AIDS.

Media Information: Image



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The pages on this website are categorized into one or more of nearly 100 categories (themes or topics). This page below displays a list of other pages that belong to the Positive Deviance category. You may view the list of pages belonging to another category by selecting the category in which you are interested from the drop-down 'Categories' menu at the top of this page.

Blog Post
  What KM practitioners can learn from Positive Deviance
Posted to Gurteen Knowledge-Log by David Gurteen on 23 October 2010

  Henley KM Forum Conference and Positive Deviance
Posted to Gurteen Knowledge-Log by David Gurteen on 22 January 2012

Book
  The Power of Positive Deviance (June 2010) by Jerry Sternin , Monique Sternin , Richard Pascale 
How Unlikely Innovators Solve the World's Toughest Problems

Category
  Positive Deviance [12 items]

Link
  Positive Deviance Initiative

Media File
  Video: Positive Deviance
Video:Positive Deviance

Quotation
  On best practice and the immune rejection response by Richard Pascale, Jerry Sternin and Monique Sternin 

  On engagement by Richard Pascale, Jerry Sternin and Monique Sternin 

  On knowledge and practice by Richard Pascale, Jerry Sternin and Monique Sternin 

  On knowledge, pizza and osmosis by Richard Pascale, Jerry Sternin and Monique Sternin 

  On suppressing variation by Richard Pascale, Jerry Sternin and Monique Sternin 

  On the social life of information by Richard Pascale, Jerry Sternin and Monique Sternin 

  On unintended consequences and adaptive problems by Richard Pascale, Jerry Sternin and Monique Sternin 


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