What's the toughest problem that your organization has tried to solve without success? Well it's just possible that a solution has been found already but no one in your organization knows about it. If this is true, then how do you go about finding these hidden solutions? A new book "The Power of Positive Deviance" by Richard Pascale, Jerry Sternin and Monique Sternin offers a plan.
The authors admit that the term positive deviance is "an awkward, oxymoronic term," but they say the concept is simple: "look for outliers who succeed against all odds." Positive deviance (PD) focuses on the successful exceptions to solving a problem and not the failing norms. For example, if you hear managers saying, "We've tried everything and nothing works," then this could be a problem solvable by taking a PD approach. Generally, the authors say, there's at least one person that has solved the problem that confounds others. This person is deviating from the norm-a "no-no" in many organizations-but has managed to get better results than others in the organization without even realizing they've done something unique.