Open Society Foundations
How Should Philanthropy Respond to Obama's Speech on Black Men and Boys? One of the suggestions that Shawn Dove of the Open Society Foundations suggests in this article is that, "Philanthropy needs to collectively embrace the "power of positive deviance," realizing that the answers to this seemingly intractable problem lies in the heads, hands, and hearts of young black men in communities across the country along with the support of girls and woman - especially single moms. Let's find ways to tap their assets."
The New York Times
In this New York Times article about female circumcision, Tina Rosenberg writes, "All of the successful methods have one thing in common - a factor that is also responsible for the success of the Positive Deviance strategy I wrote about in February: "You must allow the community to decide for themselves rather than condemning," said Gebre. "To make people understand the harm that comes to their children you can't come in and tell them 'you are doing bad and must stop.' It has to come from inside the community. It has to be discussed over and over again, in the African tradition. That's how change comes."
Social Venture Partners Pittsburgh (SVP Pittsburgh)
On June 21st several Social Venture Partners (SVP) Pittsburgh partners saw firsthand how Positive Deviance (P.D.) principles are being applied in two local mental health programs. We met with program participants who were key in the initiation of the projects, as well as others who have joined in along the way. It was quite an inspiring day!
On Thursday, November 1, 2012, PDI presented the Jon C. Lloyd Community Building Award to Jon Lloyd at the Solutions for Society event. The award was presented to Jon in recognition of his exceptional demonstration of commitment to social change, community building, and social justice using the Positive Deviance Approach.+ read more
As reported in our June 2012 newsletter, PDI is implementing the Community Innovations for Polio Eradication (CIPE) project to identify existing successful and innovative behaviors and strategies to facilitate polio eradication in selected polio high-risk communities of Karachi, Pakistan. The second PD training, attended by the twenty participants, was conducted from October 8-12 at the Institute for Capacity Development, HANDS in Karachi.+ read more
On November 14, PD facilitator Muhammad Shafique presented at the 61st Annual Meeting of The American Society for Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, in Atlanta Georgia. Shafique’s presentation, entitled, Positive Deviance: An innovative approach to improve malaria prevention and treatment practices among mobile and migrant workers in Cambodia, gave an overview of a pilot PD project that focused on mobile and migrant workers in the Greater Mekong Subregion of Cambodia whose malaria prevention and treatment practices resulted in better health outcomes than their peers.+ read more
In early May, healthcare professionals from Albert Einstein Hospital in São Paulo, Brazil had a PD celebration in the Oncology/Hematology Unit. Throughout the week, all doctors were approached to perform hand hygiene with alcohol gel hand rubs before enter the patient's room and they received some instructions about hand hygiene. The same group from Albert Einstein also recently published an article in the American Journal of Infection Control which investigates the use of the PD approach to increase compliance with hand hygiene by healthcare professionals.+ read more
Randa Wilkinson, Director of Training at PDI and a 1985 graduate of the Friedman School of Nutrition, was recently presented with the Leah Horowitz Humanitarian Award, which recognizes Friedman alumni who have demonstrated a substantial commitment to forging relationships based on service in humanitarian field work.+ read more
We recently moved our office to 75 Kneeland Street in Boston (just a block away from our old office) and we now have windows - click here to see our cool new views!+ read more
Crain's New York Business
"Much of Richard Buery's nighttime reading helps him delve deeper into the issues he deals with as chief executive of the Children's Aid Society. He just finished The Power of Positive Deviance, by Richard Pascale, Jerry Sternin and Monique Sternin, which highlights innovative ways communities around the world are solving their problems without the help of outside experts." Click to read more.
A September 7-8 PD workshop in Kathmandu, Nepal facilitated by Monique Sternin and Jim Levinson was a great success. Levinson said of the workshop, "We now have a group of PD devotees who have some valuable skills. They are sufficiently committed that they have decided to establish a PD Nepal 'community of practice' which will keep these folks - and others - well connected and will permit them to share the latest PD activities. Some absolutely remarkable people were part of the group!" Read more...+ read more
Every now and then we come across great stories of work being done by other organizations and partners which highlight how Positive Deviance works in the field and which demonstrate the dramatic impact that Positive Deviance can have on improving people's lives. Most recently, Pathfinder International featured a two-part "field journal" entry by Sarah Eckhoff in their July newsletter about villages in Burundi where a group of women in the community, termed "maman lumieres" or "illuminating mothers" are helping their peers to overcome maternal and child malnutrition as part of a PD Hearth project (a component of Pathfinder's Maternal and Child Health Project.) Click here to read more...
Due to a glitch with our email system, online contact forms and email to firstname.lastname@example.org submitted between July 21 and August 16 likely did not make it to us! We are sorry for this inconvenience and ask that you please re-sumbit any messages made between these dates. Thank you for your understanding!+ read more
On Monday, August 1, 115 health professionals gathered at the Muskie School of Public Service in Portland, Maine for the 2011 Patient Safety Academy, hosted by the Maine Critical Access Hospital Patient Safety Collaborative and supported by the Maine CDC Office of Rural Health and Primary Care. The day-long event included a presentation about Positive Deviance as well as a variety of workshop sessions offered by innovators and experts within the field. For more information and photos from the event, click here.+ read more
From July 25-29, 2011, Monique Sternin facilitated a Positive Deviance Hearth Orientation Workshop in Ventiane, Laos which was funded by World Vision Canada. The objective of this workshop was to orient participants to the PD/Hearth Model.+ read more
The New York Times
David Bornstein wrote a wonderful piece in the New York Times last week which demonstrates the Positive Deviance concept, highlighting low-income families who are able to help each other to achieve their goals rather than relying on outside resources or experts. The families participate in an initiative called the Family Independence Initiative (FII) which was founded by Maurice Lim Miller. Lim Miller says in the article that "When you come into a community that is vulnerable with professionals with power and preset ideas, it is overpowering to families and it can hold them back. Nobody wants to hear that because we're all the good guys. But the focus on need undermines our ability to see their strengths - and their ability to see their own strengths."
Over the past two decades Monique Sternin has worked with the positive deviance (PD) approach to address some of the world's most intractable problems, from maternal and infant mortality in Pakistan to female genital mutilation in Egypt. This month, Monique is changing roles and will transition into a PDI consulting and advisory role that will enable her to go back to working in the field and using the PD approach in the communities around the world that she is so passionate about. Monique will focus her time on addressing issues effecting women and children, such as maternal and newborn health, child brides, and disparities among pregnancy outcomes in the US. Monique's new role will first bring her to Nepal this autumn where she will be co-facilitating a PD orientation for organizations who wish to apply the approach in various fields including nutrition, agriculture and public health issues.+ read more
National Public Radio, National Geographic
NPR's Michele Norris and Melissa Block of All Things Considered recently interviewed photographer Stephanie Sinclair and writer Cynthia Gorney about their feature Too Young To Wed in the June issue of National Geographic which profiles young girls from Afghanistan, India, and Yemen who marry at a very early age. The National Geographic article actually uses the term "positive deviants" to label "actors within a community who through some personal combination of circumstance and moxie are able to defy tradition and instead try something new, perhaps radically so." While we were thrilled to see the term "positive deviant" used in National Geographic, it was equally exciting to hear the voice of Stephanie Sinclair during the NPR interview discussing her experience of witnessing the people of a town in Yemen unite through education to stop a child marriage.
Tom Peters Company
Tom Peters recently interviewed Richard Pascale, coauthor of The Power of Positive Deviance, as part of his "Cool Friends" interview series. In this great interview, Richard answers questions about what positive deviance is, the challenges that the approach faces in "catching on", and how PD can be used in an expert driven society. Richard Pascale is a writer, a global business consultant, and an Associate Fellow of Said Business School, Oxford University.
The PDI is very excited to welcome our new Executive Director, Roger Swartz. Roger brings significant leadership experience in public health policy and practice. He comes to the PDI from the Boston Public Health Commission where he was Director of the Community Initiatives Bureau for ten years. In addition, Roger brings significant experience managing and implementing international public health programs having worked in Africa and the Middle East. He has worked with John Snow, Inc., World Vision International and the Peace Corps. We recently sat down with Roger to ask him a few questions including what excites him about joining the PDI, and what intrigues him most about the PD approach. Click to read the full interview.+ read more
We need your support! We are very excited to be entrants in the Amgen Foundation and Ashoka's Changemakers Competition, Patients| Choices| Empowerment. This is a global competition to answer the question of how we can elevate patients' voices to improve health outcomes globally. Please help us rally support for our work by visiting our project entry! Prepare to vote beginning November 17, 2010. The three entries that receive the most votes will each earn a prize of USD $10,000.+ read more
In this short essay, an alternative conceptualization of diffusing health innovations is broached whose premise is that innovative ideas are often lurking within the system, where the change agents' primary role is to facilitate a process whereby which the community can self-discover these ideas, and where dialogue and "social proof" result in an organic spread of the innovation, in contrast to passive adopters buying into a change agency's prescription.
The Global Maternal Health Conference 2010, hosted by the Maternal Health Task Force at EngenderHealth and The Public Health Foundation of India, begins on Monday, August 30. This gathering of over 600 maternal health experts and their allies aims to build on the existing momentum around MDG5 to coalesce and catalyze the maternal health field. The conference themes are: Ideas and Interventions to Improve Maternal Health; Underlying Factors in Maternal Mortality & Morbidity; Measuring and Monitoring Maternal Health; Reproductive and Sexual Health; Strengthening Systems for Maternal Health; and Policy, Advocacy, and Communications.+ read more
Read Peter Block's review of The Power of Positive Deviance from AbundantCommunity.com+ read more
New Book - Inviting Everyone: Healing Healthcare through Positive Deviance, tells the remarkable story of how a people - centered approach to organizational and social change, accompanied by sound scientific and technical expertise, yielded positive quality outcomes for ordinary citizens, health care institutions and their patients, and society in general. To learn more about and purchase the book, click here.+ read more
Richard Pascale, co-author of The Power of Positive Deviance, recently wrote an article by the same title for The Independent. The article provides a great overview of concepts and stories that are expanded upon in the book - including how the concept was implemented successfully in Vietnam in 1990 to address malnutrition, and how the process has since been used to address diverse issues such as lack of sales in corporate applications, gang violence, and school drop-out rates. To read the full article from The Independent, click here.
If you provide care for pregnant women this is your opportunity to have your voice heard! Global Voices for Maternal Health - University of Oxford. In an international effort to reduce maternal deaths, Global Voices for Maternal Health launched a major project from the University of Oxford. The project will give over 10,000 midwives, nurses and doctors around the world a direct voice about their perspectives, the problems they face, and identify solutions to barriers in the delivery of lifesaving maternal health care.+ read more
The PDI's most recent workshop "Positive Deviance: The What. The How." was held from July 26-27 at Tufts University in Boston. 64 brilliant participants traveled from across the U.S. (and beyond!) and came from a very diverse array of sectors including education, nutrition, healthcare, environmental conservation, business, and organizational development. Participants attended the workshop to gain a basic understanding of the Positive Deviance concept and approach. Small group work focused on how to begin applying the approach in their own communities to diverse topics such as the childhood obesity epidemic, high school drop-out rates, prevention of healthcare associated infections, conflict resolution, and economic and political challenges in East Africa, just to name a few.+ read more
On June 7-9 the Women Deliver Conference was held in Washington DC. The conference, held by the Women Deliver Initiative focuses on fulfilling the 5th Millennium Development Goal, to achieve universal access to reproductive health and reduce maternal mortality. Members of the PDI joined the nearly 3,500 participants from over 140 countries that came together to learn, network, and advance strategies to address reproductive health, human rights, and economic opportunities for the worlds women and girls. The conference was an excellent opportunity for the PDI to reach out to hundreds of community groups working all over the world. Over 300 people stopped by the booth to speak with staff and learn more about PD. The team also received updates from partners on the PD projects aimed at reducing FGC/M in Egypt and improving maternal and newborn health outcomes in Pakistan.+ read more
On May 14-15, 2010 a Practice Research Workshop on Positive Deviance, entitled, "Exploring Positive Deviance: New Frontiers in Change and the Technology of Collaboration," took place at the Said Business School Executive Education Centre in Oxford, UK. The workshop was presented in honor of the late Jerry Sternin, Associate Fellow of the Said Business school , who pioneered its application in a wide range of countries and contexts along with his wife, Monique and a growing community of practitioners.+ read more
Over 60 people from over 25 organizations spent two weeks in St. Lucia (April 26 to May 8, 2010) designing a comprehensive communication and behavior change strategy for climate change for the Caribbean. The 9 OECS (Organization of Eastern Caribbean States) countries, Tobago and Jamaica aim to design the first soap opera for climate change! One of the topics for discussion was how to integrate on-the-ground Positive Deviance inquiries with on-air mass-mediated entertainment-education strategies. New York-based Media Impact is joined in supporting this work by the OECS Secretariat, TNC, GLISPA, GEF SGP, Birdlife, Panos Caribbean and 8 other organizations committed to support local action on climate change.+ read more
On April 28, 2010, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the global Innovation Award for the Empowerment of Women and Girls, supported by a $3 million grant from the Rockefeller Foundation. Judith Rodin, the Foundation's president, spoke about the Foundation's focus on investing in innovative ideas and programs for social change. Rodin highlighted Positive Deviance in her speech. To read a full PDF of Rodin's speech, or to view the video footage of the speech, please click here.
University of Texas-Arlington Academy of Distinguished Scholars Public Interest Award
Lucia Dura was recently named the recipient of the 2009-2010 University of Texas-Arlington Academy of Distinguished Scholars Public Interest Award. Lucia's proposal suggested the use of the Positive Deviance approach to address student retention rates and timely graduation in Texas. The intent of these awards is to identify and publicly recognize ideas that have a significant potential to advance the public interest through the application of research and knowledge obtained through graduate students' educational activities in Texas institutions of higher education.
Focus on exploratory projects: PDI's featured web content will focus on new applications of PD during the month of March. Each week during March, we will be highlighting a current project that is using the PD approach to address issues to which PD has not yet been applied. Our hope is that highlighting these exploratory projects will prompt others to think about the variety of issues which PD might be useful in addressing.+ read more
The March PDI Newsletter features new exploratory PD projects and new website content including two audio clips.+ read more
Focus on MRSA: PDI's featured web content will focus on MRSA during the month of February. This page includes links to all of the MRSA related content on the PDI website, including articles, presentations, projects, and more.+ read more
The February PDI Newsletter features some of the new MRSA content on the website, as well as details about new books featuring PD.+ read more
Check out this new book by Dr. Arvind Singhal and Lucia Dura, entitled "Protecting Children from Exploitation and Trafficking Using the Positive Deviance Approach in Uganda and Indonesia".+ read more
Explore the newly launched "Positive Deviance Wisdom Series." These four, highly illustrated, and attractive case studies document the use of the PD approach to address intractable social problems with local resources and wisdom.+ read more
Boston Sunday Globe
The article, "The power of positive deviants" was featured in the "Ideas" section of the Boston Sunday Globe on 11.29.09. The article includes many examples of how Positive Deviance (PD) has been applied to different issues across sectors, including maternal and newborn health in Pakistan, malnutrition in Viet Nam, and the reduction of MRSA in US hospitals. To read the article, please follow the link.
On July 8, 2009 the Centre for Innovation in Health Management and Plexus Institute will hold a conference at the University of Leeds in the U.K. The conference will focus on using the Positive Deviance (PD) approach for social and behavioral change, with a specific focus on how the PD approach has been used in the prevention and eradication of MRSA (Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus) infections in US hospitals. Attendees will have the opportunity to practice PD facilitation skills. To learn more about the conference and to register, click here.+ read more
The New Yorker
On June 12, 2009, Dr. Atul Gawande addressed the graduating class of the University of Chicago's Pritzker School of Medicine with a message about how the Positive Deviance approach can be used by people in the healthcare field to cut costs, provide better care, and ultimately help the entire country emerge from this troubled economy. During the speech, Atul discussed how the Positive Deviance approach was used by Jerry Sternin to significantly reduce malnutrition in Vietnam. The approach that Jerry used in Vietnam gave ownership to the community, encouraging people to look within the community for people who already had sustainable and successful solutions-"positive deviants." Atul gave examples of physicians who are positive deviants, as well as examples of hospitals that have managed to be low-cost, high-quality institutions. Atul encouraged the students to seek out the positive deviants in their own communities and to learn from them as a strategy to improve US healthcare system.
California Teacher's Association
On May 28, 2009 the California Teachers Association's Institute for Teaching (CTA IFT) offered a workshop about how to use the Positive Deviance approach to reduce African American and Latino student high school dropouts. The concepts of PD have been presented to more than 100 educators in CA, representing about 25 schools. Participants have been intrigued, and during the summer, a number of schools and individuals are exploring the potential of PD to work on chronic problems. Because of the financial chaos in CA, the reduction of teachers in every district and every school, PD has particular appeal as teachers and schools have to 'do more with less.'
Judith Rodin, President of the Rockefeller Foundation, highlighted the importance of positive deviance in the context of innovation in an address that she delivered at New York University's Stern School of Business on April 28, 2009. Rodin delivered the address upon accepting the Charles Waldo Haskins award. Rodin's message focused on the importance of large-scale innovation and how globalization and enhanced communication tools like wiki and online communities, has led to collaborative innovation, or "crowd sourcing." In the spirit of the PD approach Rodin said, 'If you want to solve a problem, ask everyone." Rodin highlighted the ways in which the PD approach has been used to tackle malnutrition in Vietnam, the reduction of Hospital Acquired Infections (HAI's) in the Pittsburgh VA hospital, and most recently, the use of PD to reduce drop-out rates among high-school students in California.+ read more
Even in the most hopeless of situations, there are solutions waiting to be leveraged in the very community experiencing a problem. In some urban parts of Massachusetts, students drop out at a rate three times higher than the national average. Located in Worcester's poorest neighborhood, University Park Campus School has eliminated drop outs and nearly every student continues to post-secondary education without any special outside resources.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently published the results of a pilot project to eradicate and prevent MRSA transmission in six pilot hospitals. Using the PD approach, infection rates in the six pilot hospitals dropped between 26 percent to 62 percent. Click below to read more about the success of the PD MRSA Prevention Partnership+ read more
Jasper Palmer is a positive deviance whose technique for disposing of the gown and gloves he uses helped the hospital stop the spread of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or MRSA. They have been so successful the CDC is currently studying their work. Chief Officer of the hospital Jeff Cohn states, "Jasper, who is a patient transporter, is the one being viewed as an expert and teaching quote unquote professionals -- nurses, doctors. This is flipping things on their heads."
It is with the deepest sadness that we let our community know that Jerry Sternin died on December 11th, peacefully and surrounded by his family and friends. Jerry Sternin, co-founder of the Positive Deviance Initiative (PDI), and a pioneer of applied Positive Deviance, passed away on Thursday, December 11, 2008. Jerry was an inspiration and a mentor to many people throughout the world, and used the Positive Deviance (PD) approach to improve the lives of thousands of people. Jerry will be remembered in many ways, by many people, perhaps most profoundly as an innovator and a teacher. Jerry possessed energy, optimism, and a belief in the power of the PD approach that the PDI will carry on in its work.+ read more
Corporate University Xchange
PD was used in Waterbury Hospital in an effort to improve medication reconciliation to help patients avoid difficulties with their medication after discharge from the hospital. Their efforts led to 78% of patients leaving the hospital with appropriate medical reconciliation, up from 13.3% and a significant decrease in the likelihood of patients having medication problems at home. This was a significantly positive change in performance that resulted from the analysis, not of what outside experts were doing well, but of what their own people did differently that made them stand out from the crowd.
Service to America Medals
Dr. Rajiv Jain was recognized with the prestigious Citizen Services Medal for a significant contribution to the nation in health care for his work in developing and leading an initiative that reduced the life threatening MRSA infections by 60% and spread the program to 153 VA hospitals in addition to other hospitals across the nation and world.
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality awarded a three year grant to Indiana University to advance MRSA prevention and research. The award will support the use of PD to stop the spread of MRSA infections in several Indianapolis hospitals and other healthcare centers in the community.
The SMASH program at Albert Einstein Medical Center uses positive deviance to find bottom up solutions to stop the spread of Methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus or (MRSA) infections. Using this approach they've cut infection rates by 30% and have been recognized with two awards from the Hospitals and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP). "I've been in infection control for over 30 years," stated Dottie Borton, an infection control practitioner at Einstein, "but [the SMASH initiative] is different because the staff owns it and talks about it and has pride in it."
Rosario and her family find ways to thrive on land previously abused and abandoned. Their exceptional ability to grow new varieties of crops in this unique environment is recognized by their peers and highlighted in this NPR blog.+ read more
The Nature Conservatory
The PD approach was used by an economist from the University of Amsterdam to identify some of the most resilient examples of healthy ocean and marine habitats in Fiji, Indonesia, the Solomon Islands, and the Philippines. He found key PD factors that could be replicated elsewhere to protect habitat while simultaneously providing sources of income, stronger local governance, better health outcomes, and better opportunities for women in protected areas and the surrounding communities.
New York Times
In 2005 nearly 40% of Malawi's population required emergency food aid. Despite the crisis, Malawi's government resisted the advice they were given by the West and began to subsidize fertilizer and to a lesser extent, seeds. Now it exports foods and helps feed hungry neighbors.
New York Times
Despite a population explosion Nigerian farmers are reversing destructive farming practices and reforesting the country. Their conversation efforts improve soil fertility and leave them less vulnerable to drought cycles and famines. The simple methods they employ are expensive or even free.
New York Times
Ann M. Fletcher, author of "Weight Loss Confidential." Studied the habits of teenagers who not only lost a significant amount of weight, averaging 58 pounds but who also kept it off for two or more years. In an environment where overweight is becoming the norm, this is no small task. She found teens that were successful had internal motivation, had supportive families who provided positive feedback and support without criticism, and learned how to pay attention to their body's cues, or to "eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full."
New York Times
Kathleen M. Cashin is Superintendent to some of the roughest schools in New York, yet the elementary and middle schools she works with are seeing remarkable changes in their reading and science scores. Her success challenges the idea that major reform is the only way to improve failing schools for the city's children. Read more about the approach of this powerful positive deviant.
After Sheikh Ali Hashim Al Siraj witnessed the death of a young girl during FMG/C he searched religious texts to find the ruling on this practice. When he could not find a basis in Islam for FMG/C he used his position in the community to speak out against the practice. Later he was selected as a member of the committee for a special program in the Primary Health Care Department in the Ministry of Health.
The Seattle Metro bus service put together a program for its drivers by its drivers to help them increase physical activity on their breaks. Several drivers offered their tips for working activity in whether it was taking a walk in one of the areas several parks or using different parts of the bus for exercises unique to their work. "Even when norms are unhealthy or off-track, you can find model behaviors at the margins. Changing culture can be as simple as making it OK to do the right thing."
Positive deviance was used to find subjects for media projects in Vietnam for and about infants and children. Before creating the material, interviewers looked for positive deviants in the community that the campaign could feature to inspire others. The project discovered several positive deviants with disabilities and spread the word.
Al-Ahram Weekly Online
This news story highlights the use of PD to take a new approach to abandoning Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting in Egypt where it is almost universally practiced. The village, Beni-Sueif boasts that "for the last three years not one girl has been circumcised in our village."