Positive Deviance: A Strategy for Lasting Behavioral Change
Positive deviance (PD) is a successful way to mobilizing organizations and communities for behavioral change. It is based on the observation that in most communities there are certain people whose special practices or strategies enable them to solve seemingly intractable problems better than peers who have the same resources. Rather than trying to impose solutions devised by outside experts, PD focuses on helping people discover and amplify successes that already exist. Communities can more readily accept and adopt successful practices that have emerged from their own members.
PD has documented its efficacy in solving health related problems in 41 countries around the world. Its first uses in the US in healthcare have dealt with the preventing transmission of infections in hospitals and the proper use of prescription medications by patients following inpatient hospital care. Corporate America, including Goldman Sachs, Merck, Hewlett-Packard, and Genetech. has also used PD. Application to in public school settings are currently being explored.
Consultation options range from introductory sessions to help organizations determine if PD is an appropriate change strategy to employ on particular issues to full support for a PD change initiative.