Awareness of the term “positive deviance” is rising, as a way of solving tough problems by finding what already works. It’s been the topic of seminars for health leaders. It’s been frequently mentioned by Helen Bevan, Chief Transformation Officer, NHS England, as part of a repertoire of approaches to front-line change, and by Jo Bibby in her Health Foundation Blog. It is the subject of a slide show by Bob Sutton, and gets a brief mention as a possible new option in a recent article about the limitations of quality improvement projects in the NHS by Prof Mary Dixon Woods and Graham P Martin.
There is, however, no available comparison of the various interpretations and applications of “positive deviance,” and some authors mix up the various conceptual frameworks. This article aims to put this right, and offer tips to leaders for implementation. Continue reading →
Many change models, Hidden Insights included, stress the need for engaging people in change early on. To do this, we need their active co-operation, and involvement, often in focus groups, large-scale events such as Open Space or World Cafe or just in conversations. But you’ve got to get them to turn up in a positive frame of mind, ideally ready to volunteer to get involved….
Here’s a checklist, based on experience of implementing successful employee and community projects. Its parent comes from the successful MRSA reduction project in the USA, recorded in the book, Inviting Everyone, Healing Healthcare Through Positive Deviance, by Arvind Singhal, Prucia Bruscell and Curt Lindberg. We’ve added some learning of our own. Continue reading →
There has been a lively twitter conversation about a fascinating interview with Philip Zimbardo, Stanford professor emeritus and author of “the Lucifer Effect“. He explains that society may condition good people to do bad things, such as join gangs and participate in violence. This has been demonstrated in his “prison” experiment, and in the famous “electric shock” experiments of Stanley Milgram. If you put good people in a bad environment, they will do bad things. Philip helps people learn to be ordinary heroes.
I read Jane Bozarth’s excellent article on positive deviance (PD) in Learning Solutions Magazine with interest. She succinctly highlights how PD uncovers hidden solutions and delivers sustainable results. She points up the differences between PD and business as usual. She sets out the usual scenario for solving problems:
“Organization has a problem. Organization brings in “experts” to study the problem, devise a solution, run a pilot (which may mean a training program) and then leave. Organisation members quickly revert back to old behaviors”.
Jane highlights the possibilities opened up by looking for what works. A specific tool is the all-important “flip” or “somersault” question:
Not “why are staph infections so high across the hospital?” but “why are staph infections lower on the third floor?”
Not “why are sales down in regions 6 and 9, but “why are sales up in region 4?”
This helpful introduction highlights how simple the PD concept is, and how there are almost always hidden solutions. On the face of it, it’s hard to understand why amplifying positive deviance, as practised by the Sternins, isn’t as common as many other improvement initiatives. It’s about doing more with less, empowering and engaging people. It spreads behaviours and practices that are already proven to be working, so the only resource needed is the time to find them. It’s evidence based, teaches a lot about leadership and is fun to do. What’s not to like? Continue reading →
Thanks to NHS Elect and South East Employers for spreading the word about Hidden Insights.
NHS Elect, which is itself part of the NHS, supports more than 50 trusts across the county to improve their services and develop their people. We are speaking and running a workshop at their annual members’ conference at the Central Hall, Westminster, on 13th November. This is to show how Hidden Insights gives a new lens for change leaders, offering a different way to get patients taking responsibility for their own health, and to create collaborative relationships, engagement and behaviour change across organisational silos and between patients and professionals. Continue reading →
The Department of Communities and Local Government’s Troubled Families Initiative (TFI) was set up to reduce the significant costs to the taxpayer of a minority of deeply complex families. The DCLG has calculated that one family can cost between £40,000 to £400,000 a year in reactive interventions. There have been some great achievements in turning families round. The Initiative is now being extended into phase 2. Continue reading →
Woodward Lewis have been training Haringey Council and partnership agency staff in using Hidden Insights to tackle problems and to build better, more collaborative relationships, within existing resources. The contract has just been extended into three new areas:
Helping the community to collaborate to address anti-social behaviour in Northumberland Park, N17
Helping vulnerable families to adjust to being more self-sufficient when leaving intensive support in N15 and
Helping young people leaving care to take responsibility and adapt to being more independent, with the support of personal advisers.
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes” – Marcel Proust
The Change Leaders alumni group celebrates 10 years of the Oxford-HEC master’s programme, Coaching and Consulting for Change with their own perspectives on change. Jane has collaborated with Roberto Saco to tell the story of positive deviance and how it is evolving to help deliver change in the workplace.