Douglas Book of the Month: The Power of Positive Deviance

A guide on how to leverage the rare positive deviants to improve your company.

In The Power of Positive Deviance: How Unlikely Innovators Solve the World’s Toughest Problems (Oxford University), authors Richard Pascale, Jerry Sternin and Monique Sternin take a counterintuitive approach to problem-solving. Their advice? Leverage positive deviants — the rare people in a group who find unique ways to look at and overcome seemingly insoluble difficulties.

Who is a Positive Deviant?

In every business or organization, there are people or teams whose behaviour enables them to find better solutions to problems than their peers. These people have the same resources and face the same challenges or roadblocks as their peers, yet they manage to avoid problems that negatively impact the rest of the company or group.

How to Harness Positive Deviance

First, you want to identify those people who manage to thrive in situations where most others fail. Then you need to figure out what they are doing that is different from the others. Once you’ve done that, harness their process and get everyone to engage in the same actions to solve the problem.

This article is from the February/March 2019 issue of Douglas.