Summary of The Power of Positive Deviance

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The Power of Positive Deviance book summary
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Certain paradigms – child malnutrition in postwar Vietnam, female genital mutilation in Egypt, hospital MRSA infections in the US – seem to be intractable elements of their communities’ intrinsic fabric and, thus, unchangeable and beyond repair. This book by Richard Pascale, Monique Sternin and the late Jerry Sternin demonstrates the reverse: Even stubborn social problems are correctable if you search for a solution inside the affected community. Each dysfunctional social behavior the authors studied yielded a functional exception: a “Positive Deviant.” Communities can learn the wisdom of their deviating members and use their solutions to stamp out problems. In this readable, detailed, humane exploration of this deductive method and its dynamics, the authors show how to share hidden knowledge to create change. Using wide-ranging case studies, they explain how exceptions to the rule can lead to a common good. getAbstract recommends this book to those compelled by social dynamics or intent on solving community problems.

In this summary, you will learn

  • What “Positive Deviance” (PD) is,
  • How practitioners have applied PD to solve problems and change a variety of difficult circumstances worldwide, and
  • How to facilitate the PD process.

About the Authors

Richard Pascale is an Associate Fellow of the Saïd Business School, Oxford University. Monique Sternin directs the Positive Deviance Initiative at Tufts University. She and the late Jerry Sternin facilitated PD sessions worldwide.



“Observable Exceptions”
Every society has a few people who have solved issues that vex everyone else. These people are “Positive Deviants” who practice observable exceptions to the norm. Custom typically makes people blind to these few rebels and the methods they use to avoid endemic dilemmas...

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Comment on this summary

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    Yaron Avramov 5 years ago
    Interesting and thoughtful. Great read.
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    Deirdre Cody 6 years ago
    A wonderful book that has the power to change the world.

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