I think anyone who's ever done any kind of training or system implementation figures this out very quickly. The first step is always find the influencers and get them on your side. After that it's a piece of cake.
To take the reasoning a bit further - what the program is really doing is finding examples of the behavior they want to encourage, then turning the practitioners of that behavior into influencers.
Which is an altogether different thing than what I'd outlined. And also far trickier I'd imagine.
First, they start with a desired result they want to encourage, and then seek out what behaviors are currently leading to that result.
Second, the approach to diffusing those behaviors described is not simply raising the influence of the people practicing them, and may or may not have that effect at all.
I recommend that you read the article with an eye to what it says instead of what you expected it would say before you started reading it.
What the Sternins discovered, after all, isn't so surprising: To avoid malnourishment, eat more things more often, even when you're sick. Oh, and wash your hands before eating.
The trick was convincing people, over the influence of whatever forklore/habits had them doing other things, to change.
I could imagine in some cultures, and sufficiently desperate conditions, the technique could generate a backlash, at least for the 'deviants'. For example, what if the anomalously-nourished children's families were transgressing norms in some more serious way, like sneaking food from a common store, or breaching religious dietary taboos?
Stealing food, on the other hand, is a prisoner's-dilemma defect move. You wouldn't improve the situation by persuading everyone to adopt it, which is specifically why it would generate a backlash.
That is one of the most fundamentally Moral statements I have ever seen. Try replacing "development" with education. Or even better replace "development" with "raising your children".
The essence of the positive deviance idea is to let the children raise themselves by abandoning the methods of their parents (of tradition) and instead monitoring the best practices of their peers, but I suspect parents would (with some justice) object to this interpretation.
Deviance (a relative concept) is not the same as perversion (a moral concept).
True, but most words have two meanings -- a formal one, and an emotional one. In this case, it seems the emotional meaning was overlooked.
> Deviance (a relative concept) is not the same as perversion (a moral concept).
But "deviance" is often used in a moral context -- consider the expression "deviant behavior". Just to make the point, the word "perversion" could be used in a neutral context, but only if its emotion baggage could be overlooked.
Ironically, one can say "standard deviation" in statistics without anyone taking it the wrong way -- it seems completely neutral when used that way.
Anyway, I wish they has asked me -- i would have told them to call it "The Black Swan Strategy."
I agree -- it's very unfortunate. Typically, words have a formal meaning, and an emotional one. This word's emotional meaning was unfortunately ignored. Then, try to to repair the damage, they came up with "positive deviance", which only serves to highlight the error. And to think, any number of better alternatives exist:
"The Black Swan Strategy"
"Community Natural Selection"
"The Self-rescue Plan"
And my favorite:
But this really doesn't have anything to do with black swans... this technique isn't about a rare and unpredictable occurrence, but rather with a deviation from the norm.
Again, this doesn't map to their findings -- the community was not selecting the preferential strategy, even though it was present in the community.
"Positive deviation" would have been a less sensational way to put it, but link-bait in and of itself isn't a bad thing, if the linked-to content delivers. Which I think is the case here.
Sure it is -- that's why people didn't notice it until they were encouraged to look at the behavior of the outliers -- those few examples whose children, though poor, weren't malnourished.
> Again, this doesn't map to their findings -- the community was not selecting the preferential strategy, even though it was present in the community.
Umm, that's how "natural selection" is defined -- the rare behavior that confers an advantage. All these people needed was encouragement to look for the advantageous adaptation that was already present in the population.
If you gloss over the part where someone's norm is violated, you have missed an important aspect of this
Good point. Their fix just made it worse.