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The Power of Positive Deviance: How Unlikely Innovators Solve the World's Toughest Problems

ISBN: 9781422110669 | 1422110664
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Perseus Distribution Services
Pub. Date: 6/16/2010

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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.


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