Change Management and Positive Deviance

Tuesday, October 30th, 2007

Last week I heard Jerry and Monique Sternin speak at the Organization Development Network convention. They talked about the power of using Positive Deviance.

Here’s what that looks like. Children in a village suffered from malnutrition. Yet within that same community there were children who got exactly the same food cooked in the same way who were well-nourished. The Sternins examined the behaviors of the parents as they fed the children. Most parents gave young children soup from the top of the pot. While the parents with healthier children dipped the ladles deep into the pot catching the vegetables and starches that were in the pot. So simple. They believe that solutions to problems often are simple and hidden in plain sight. There are people whose behavior deviates from the norm in a positive way. And we can learn from them.

They have worked in developing countries, with multi-national corporations, and in healthcare.

I was quite taken with their presentation and plan to begin studying this approach more deeply. But for now, I just wanted to share my excitement. To learn more, visit: