Positive deviance: a key to great government?

By Michael McCauley  In her recent column, “How Questions Can Drive Leadership Success”   in the weekly of the National League of Cities , Dr. Barbara Mackoff  posits that asking the right questions can drive municipal leadership success. I couldn’t agree more! Dr. Mackoff seeks to encourage the use of the wisdom of positive deviants.  Instead of asking,  “What’s wrong here?”  she suggests that we ask,  “What do we want more of here?” How refreshing! I just finished reading Lee Brower’s   new book, The Brower Quadrant . In it Lee supports  Mackoff’s approach, saying,  “To be true leaders we need to ask different questions. Asking different questions leads us to different answers. Different answers lead us to different, and often better, results.” Next, Mackoff suggests that we look around and see who is already solving this problem. Again, this is a positive deviance approach. In any organization, there are people who consistently and systematically outperform everyone else. These are the people we should be focusing on. They are the ones that can help us with work through our challenges and adopt the successful behaviors they have made them so successful.  There are several additional suggestions that Mackoff provides in her column to help determine if the solution defined by the positive deviants is the right one for your particular city and to ensure that we get the most leverage possible.]]>

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