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Plexus Institute Adaptive Positive Deviance (APD) Improvement Approach
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Discover and develop solutions hiding in plain sight

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Learn how to tap into innovation ready to be discovered and implemented from within your organization. Leaders, management, and the frontline will discover:

  • In every community there exist small groups whose uncommon practices enable them to achieve better outcomes even though they face the same barriers and have only the same resources as their peers.
  • The people whose behaviors need to change will "act their way into a new way of thinking” upon discovering what their peers are doing and how they’re doing it- from them.
  • The PD process engages everyone and leads to stronger and more diverse relationships and conversations.

How to start?

  • Identify an intractable problem that has resisted prior improvement efforts.
  • Develop an interdisciplinary core team of at least 3-6 people with influence, not necessarily by title, to lead the improvement initiative.
  • Invite formal and informal leaders to initial kickoff workshop and get to work.

What happens? A facilitated 12-month series of experiences that discover solutions, remove barriers, change behaviors, and transform how care is delivered.

  • A kickoff workshop (3 hours, 2 or 3 sessions) creates a sense of urgency and engages the hearts and minds of the audience using stories and data regarding the challenge at hand. The team creates of sense of possibilities through action learning experiences and extends an invitation to join the initiative for any/all interested.
  • Post-kickoff facilitation (3-5 days) enables rapid identification of pilot areas that will be initial learning laboratories where discovery, experimentation and prototyping will occur.
  • On-site Plexus Institute engagement every 1-2 months that includes training in use of discovery and action dialogues to surface PD practices that become actions the team commits to and owns and training in Liberating Structures, adaptive change methods that will be used to spark innovative thinking and create new actions and relationships.
  • Plexus Institute staff provides developmental evaluation to connect actions, results, consequences, and goals around what’s working, what’s not, and why? Staff identifies solutions appropriate for broader evaluation and implementation.
  • Leading in complexity training and mentoring.


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