Positive deviance – To solve wicked problems

November 3, 2012 § 3 Comments

This is an interesting thing I came across in the past few weeks –

Positive deviance (PD) is a problem solving approach to solve supposedly wicked problems. In a nutshell, we spot the positive outliers, investigate as to what makes them so and see if the rest of the population can do the same. PD approach has been used successfully to solve issues of malnutrition in some African countries! 🙂

According to Sternin and others (2010), Positive Deviance (PD) can be summed up as follows:

  1. Solutions to seemingly intractable problems already exist,
  2. They have been discovered by members of the community itself, and
  3. These innovators (individual positive deviants) have succeeded even though they share the same constraints and barriers as others.

Source: Unknown

What appeals me so much is the simplicity of the concept. All the time, one reads about models on strategy or marketing that are tough to recollect after few days and becomes a speck in a matter of weeks.

But this one seems so straight forward, easy to understand, explain… what a relief! reminds me of Occam’s razor! 🙂

– Arun Vallappan

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