Positive Deviance
May 14th, 2005 by JTJ

“Positive Deviance”
a nice ring to it, don't you think?  In fact, the concept has been
batted around for 14-plus years and has evolved enough to have its own
physical and virtual place in the universe at the
Plexus Institute and Tufts University Positive Deviance Initiative.

Deviance … demonstrates that isolated examples of success
can be tapped to benefit an entire community or organization.
Accomplishing this requires a radical departure from 'benchmarking' and
'best practices' strategies of change….The PD approach builds on
successful but 'deviant' (different) practices that are identified from
within a
community or organization. It is based on the observation that in every
group there are certain individuals whose uncommon, but demonstrably
successful practices or behaviors enable them to find better solutions
than their neighbors or colleagues who have access to exactly the same
resources. Its use was pioneered in developing countries and has led to
sustainable improvements in seemingly intractable organizational and
social issues.”

approach was originally developed for — and continues to be applied to
— health care.  But we at the IAJ like it because it is a
“transferable concept and social technology,” something that could take
root in “deviant” journalism.

We also like the approach because it is an example of how the high-level concepts of complexity studies and Complex Adaptive Systems (CAS) can
move from the theoretical to the experimental and on to application
state.  Again, something that journalism, and expecially
journalism educators, should be thinking about.

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