Positive outliers fall outside the standard spectrum. They achieve extraordinary results when compared to the others. They are the A+ people.
Identifying their best practices in particular what they do differently to their peers, learning from it and teaching it to others, will, over time, result in “positive outlier” behaviours becoming the new norm and standards, Meanwhile it will generate the emergence of new positive outliers.
Over time this results in continuous improvement and responsive, flexible capabilities for entire communities, organizations and ecosystems.
Unfortunately, because positive outliers fall outside the “norm”, they often do not fit within, for example, current measurements and models to identify and develop high potential talent in organizations. Usually only when such people exit organizations, do leaders grasp the loss of their impact and networks they generated for cost reduction, improved effectiveness, and high performance and healthy workplaces.
For new value creation and strategic differentiation, identifying positive outlier individuals, organizations and communities will provide unique market opportunities, build leadership in new industry best practices and economic models, to mention but a few.
“Positive deviance (PD) is an approach to behavioural and social change based on the observation that in any community there are people whose uncommon but successful behaviours or strategies enable them to find better solutions to a problem than their peers, despite facing similar challenges and having no extra resources or knowledge than their peers. These individuals are referred to as positive deviants.”
“Positive deviance is a strength-based approach which is applied to problems requiring behaviour and social change. It is based on the following principles:
· Communities already have the solutions. They are the best experts to solve their problems.
· Communities self-organize and have the human resources and social assets to solve an agreed-upon problem.
· Collective intelligence. Intelligence and know-how is not concentrated in the leadership of a community alone or in external experts but is distributed throughout the community. Thus the Positive Deviance process’s aim is to draw out the collective intelligence to apply it to a specific problem requiring behaviour or social change.
· Sustainability as the cornerstone of the approach. The Positive Deviance approach enables the community or organization to seek and discover sustainable solutions to a given problem because the demonstrably successful uncommon behaviours are already practiced in that community within the constraints and challenges of the current situation.
· It is easier to change behaviour by practicing it rather than knowing about it. “It is easier to act your way into a new way of thinking than think your way into a new way of acting”. Wikipedia, November 2019