Simple behaviours within a community have a significant impact: How Positive Deviance is tackling Malaria

We’ve seen Positive Deviance, the approach that Hidden Insights® stems from, achieve some incredible results.  For example, from creating cultural change in the world’s largest Investment Bank, to helping sales performance in a pharmaceutical, to generating a 73 per cent reduction in the transmission of MRSA in over 250 hospitals in a period of months (Pascale Sternin & Sternin 2010).

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Improving Performance – A story from our Director of Relaxation


Is improving performance just too hard?  And expensive?

Be more cat…..

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Complexity, positive deviance and pecha-kucha in Paris

Attended another great meeting of the Change Leaders, the alumni group of the Coaching and Consulting for Change programme of Oxford University and HEC Paris.  The group is growing, cohort by cohort, and we are getting world-leading speakers.  In this case, we had the privilege of Margaret Wheatley‘s presence for a whole day, in which she updated us on her latest thinking about complexity.

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Webinar with Involve – Friday 2nd March 12.00 – 1.30

We’re delighted to be working with Sue Ritchie of MutualGain again, this time on a webinar for Involve, the community engagement specialists.  Called “Positively Deviant”, it explains what positive deviance is and how it has delivered exceptional results in solving intractable community problems.  We will be talking about why it is different from other community engagement and empowerment models and how it works, using UK examples.

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Workshop – optimising social value through PD – 27th March

Southwark Council are kindly hosting a workshop for us on 27th March 2012.

Featuring speakers from recent UK positive deviance exercises in Cambridge and Peckham, this workshop shows how PD works, and optimises the social value of funds invested in it,  to:

  • De-victimise vulnerable people and put them on a path forward
  • Raise community awareness of issues and ignite positive action
  • Give people confidence and hope, and enable them to sustain new behaviours

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“Speed Positive Deviance” at the National College of School Leadership

We were invited to do a presentation on Positive Deviance at the National College of School Leadership, as a workshop on new practices for Aspiring Directors of Children’s Services.

Thanks to our new team member and Gosport mum Jez Edwards for running a great session on her work with Little Waves Children’s Centre in Gosport.  Jez took the PD steps, turned them into four weekly sessions, and helped a group of eight mums to discover ways of being more engaged parents and playing actively with their young children.  In doing this, the mums found their own way of meeting the Government’s 5-a-day parenting guidelines without experts telling them anything!  Feedback from the mums was outstanding and we hope to run more sessions – the mums really enjoyed being facilitated by someone just like them, and this helped them to relax and become more confident.  Each mum brought ideas and something that they were good at, to get over their concerns about messy play, a particular favourite with young boys.

You can find a fuller report here:  Little Waves Speed PD case study (956 downloads) with pictures of the final play session.

At the National College presentationJane Lewis with some of the participants at the NCSL workshop.  We had very positive feedback overall, and active interest from several delegates.

Woodward Lewis provides Positive Deviance insight to the National College of School Leadership Conference

In October, Jane Lewis and Jez Edwards spoke at a workshop for aspiring Directors of Children’s Services at the National College of School Leadership in Nottingham. Woodward Lewis was asked by the NCSL to give an overview of Positive Deviance – a new engagement and empowerment tool that delivers behaviour change within existing resources. The aim was to ignite ideas and inspiration on how it can be applied in Children’s Services.

Jane Lewis presents on Positive Deviance at the NCSL conference
Jane Lewis and some NCSL delegates

Positive Deviance has been used globally to solve education issues. Four inner state schools in New Jersey, USA are using it to improve student achievement and other intractable issues.  Save the Children is running a PD programme to increase the number of girls attending school in the Afar region of Ethiopia and there has been a marked increase in girl’s enrolment since the programme began.

Woodward Lewis worked with Little Waves Children’s Centre in Gosport,Hampshire to tackle the problem of low children’s attainment in the area.  Little Waves wanted to address this, putting the emphasis on parents as first educators, so Positive Deviance – which places the community at the heart of the process – was a perfect fit with its objectives.

The Centre hosted a pilot positive deviance community coaching exercise, which saw a group of parents come together and learn from each other on how to best deal with their child’s learning and development. Creating change from within the community fits with the Government’s big society agenda, while encouraging and motivating parents through peer groups. The group agreed that messy play, with parents and primary care-givers, was essential to child attainment and they learned from each other to create a practical messy play session.  No experts told them how to do it.  They ran a very successful play session together.  This has given them the confidence to try this themselves at home, and they all want to do more PD work.   All parents have the power and knowledge to turn around their child’s attainment; they just need to be given the confidence and motivation from drawing on internal wisdom. This is extremely quick, efficient and does not require huge monetary investment.

During the conference, Woodward Lewis covered the global examples and Jez Edwards, the community coach for the Little Waves project, a mum recruited from the Little Waves parents, discussed the process in detail. A graphic illustrator was on hand to provide images throughout and below are some of the drawings.

The workshop was a great success, with very positive feedback, and has led to several meetings to discuss taking the Positive Deviance process further within various Children’s Services bodies.

Our thanks go to the NCSL and Deloittes for inviting us.

Graffics drawn up during NCSL Positive Deviance presentation
Graphic recording from NCSL Positive Deviance presentation