Positive Deviance Approach for Behavior and Social Change From the Inside Out - Best Practice Institute
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Positive Deviance Approach for Behavior and Social Change From the Inside Out

Presenter: Jerry Sternin, BPI Expert


Traditional expert-driven models for individual, social and organizational change often don’t work. Like the human immune system, individuals, communities and institutions such as MOH, hospitals reject what is perceived as “foreign matter”. When “experts” provide strategies for individual or social change which are externally identified and “not invented here”, they are doomed to fail.

The Positive Deviance approach builds on successful but “deviant” (different) practices and strategies that are identified from within the community or institution, by the very people whose behavior needs to change, and thus are, by definition, accessible today by those sharing the same cultural context.

Positive Deviance (PD) is based on the belief that in every “community” (i.e. village, corporation, school system, hospital, etc.) there are certain individuals or entities whose uncommon, but demonstrably successful behaviors or strategies enable them to find better solutions to problems than their neighbors or colleagues who have access to exactly the same resources. Beside being known in nutrition as “The PD/Hearth Model”, the PD approach has been applied to problems as diverse as condom use among commercial sex workers, neo-natal mortality, education performance, trafficking of girls, and is now being recognized as a powerful tool for addressing educational problems as well.


Jerry Sternin

BPI Expert

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60 Minutes