The Power of Positive Deviance

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2010-06-16
  • Publisher: Harvard Business School Pr
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Significant change in groups of any size--from small organizations to large communities to entire societies--has traditionally come about through top-down initiatives such as hiring experts or importing best-of-breed practices. Such methods usually result in companywide rollouts of templates that do little to get people excited, or countless government policy initiatives that seem indistinguishable to people on the ground. This is the conventional "social engineering" approach to making change. But within almost every group, there are a few individuals who find unique ways to look at problems that seem impossible to solve. Although these change agents start out with the same tools and access to resources as their peers, they are able to see solutions where others do not. These positive deviants are the key, the authors believe, to a better way of creating change. With inspiring and insightful stories, the authors show the phenomenal success of the positive-deviance approach in alleviating some of the world's toughest, most complicated and diverse problems such as malnutrition in Vietnam, female circumcision in Egypt (a practice dating back thousands of years), and the rise of MRSA infections in hospitals around the world. In later chapters, they highlight the core principles and themes underlying the PD approach, such as: "acting your way into a new way of thinking"; suppressing the social immune defense response; working backward from the solution space; and "making the group the guru." The book makes a powerful case for a fresh and surprising alternative to our standard, top-down models of problem solving and of leadership.

Author Biography

Richard Pascale is a writer, a global business consultant, and an Associate Fellow of Said Business School, Oxford University. Jerry Sternin (1938-2008) and Monique Sternin pioneered and have successfully applied the positive deviance approach in many organizations and countries worldwide. Monique Sternin is the Director of the Positive Deviance Initiative at Tufts University.

Table of Contents

Forewordp. ix
Acknowledgmentsp. xv
Introduction: Against All Oddsp. 1
Childhood Malnutrition in Vietnam: From Peril to Possibilityp. 19
Female Circumcision in Egypt: Reconciling Tradition and Changep. 53
Hospital Infections: Acting into a New Way of Thinkingp. 83
Early Wins, Squandered Gains: Pioneering the PD Process at Merckp. 121
Girl Soldiers in Uganda: Reintegrating Outcastsp. 149
Infant Mortality: The Way to Change a Community (Is Not to Engage in Community Change)p. 171
Nature's Way: Invisible in Plain Sightp. 183
Appendix: Basic Field Guide to the Positive Deviance (PD) Approachp. 195
Notesp. 209
Indexp. 215
About the Authorsp. 229
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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