Positive Deviance – The Roots of Hidden Insights®

Hidden Insights® evolved from the Positive Deviance (PD) approach pioneered by Jerry and Monique Sternin.  PD has been used in organisations and communities world wide to create better outcomes within the same resources.

In organisations, it has delivered:

  • up to 73% reduction in MRSA infections in US hospitals, and now being used in over 300 hospitals across the US, Canada and South America
  • increasing sales of pharmaceutical products by 17% and bringing the team in question from the bottom to the top of the company sales league table
  • time savings of up to 30%

Positive deviance has delivered significant results in community development across the world, including:

  • Reduction of infant malnutrition by 30% – 50% in 41 countries worldwide, with no
    additional resources or aid, just by changing feeding practices
  • 50% increase in retention of primary school students in Argentina, and
  • 50% reduction of exclusions and lateness in Pennsylvania by identifying key factors and changing teacher and parent behaviour

Positive Deviance (PD) is based on the observation that in every community or organisation, there are a few individuals or groups who have found uncommon practices and behaviours that enable them to achieve better solutions to problems than their neighbours who face the same challenges or barriers. (Pascale, Sternin & Sternin, (2010) the Power of Positive Deviance, Harvard Business Press)

By discovering these practices, community members discover that it is possible to avoid problems, and learn how very small differences in behaviours make for huge differences in outcomes. These successful practices are then checked to ensure they are accessible to all, and shared through practical learning activities, feedback and reinforcement. A key principle is “it is easier to act your way into a new way of thinking, than think your way into a new way of acting”