Identify ‘positive deviance’ to build on what’s already working

In nearly every community there are examples of situations that have worked surprisingly well.

For example:

  • The teacher who out-performs their peers in an underperforming school
  • The young person that got and is holding down a job despite the odds being stacked against them from birth
  • The family that overcame addiction to become a vital member of the community

Identifying and understanding this ‘positive deviance’ will help you understand the kind of solutions that can work in your community – with the resources that are already in place.

Once you understand positive deviance you can start to think about how to put those conditions in place for the community members that don’t have them, for example through new kinds of supports or by spreading effective behaviours.


You can read more about positive deviance at