Positive deviants: "unlikely innovators" solving tough problems

By William Seidman I’m a believer in the ability of  positive deviants to lead their organizations forward, to promote change that sticks, and to improve workplaces.  In their terrific new book,  The Power of Positive Deviance: How Unlikely Innovators Solve the World’s Toughest Problems, Richard Pascale, Jerry Sternin and Monique Sternin show how positive deviants have brought about real and lasting change in foreign countries and cultures, including meeting challenges of starvation in Vietnam, female genital cutting in Egypt, and sex trafficking in Indonesia. The Sternins and Pascale make a convincing argument for positive deviants — respected members of their communities — being not just the best, but the only, way to solve ingrained social problems. If the impetus for change comes from within, and from respected members of a community or organization, the change is much more likely to be accepted and adopted. The Sternins and Pascale dislike the term “best practices” because it implies an outside force which can somehow change an organization or its way of doing things. Instead, they reason, change that comes from inside the organization is the change that will stick. A persistent problem, though, is scaling: it’s sometimes difficult to ensure mass change. We at Cerebyte have discovered some accelerators for change that might complement their theory, and this would be interesting to discuss with the authors of this excellent book.]]>

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