Putting Positive Deviance into Practice: A brilliant UN Women initiative on domestic violence

November 26, 2018
Yesterday was the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and the start of the annual 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign, so it seems like a good moment to post this.  As part of my scoping exercise on Positive Deviance, I’ve been having some great skype conversations. Monique Sternin put me in touch with Ulziisuren

So what might ‘Beyond the Project’ Activities look like?

November 16, 2018
Some thoughts in response to yesterday’s challenge from Brady Mott. What might replace the project? On one level, it’s a self-defeating exercise – any alternative is likely to require spending money, staff etc and some kind of accountability. Boom – we’re back to projects! But some projects can loosen the kinds of constraints that Brady describes, getting away from the

What can Positive Deviance reveal about gender and social change?

October 15, 2018
Today is the UN International Day for Rural Women, so here are Patti Petesch, Shelley Feldman  and Lone Badstue to introduce some really interesting new research on what works. What can a Positive Deviance approach add to our understanding of gender equality in rural villages? To find out we analysed a sample of 79 villages in 17 countries and identified eight

Positive Deviance in action: the search for schools that defy the odds in Kenya

April 3, 2018
I’ve been thinking about why there is so little attention to Positive Deviance in development practice, so got very excited by this experiment in East Africa. Guest post from Sheila P Wamahiu (left), of Jaslika Consulting, and Kees de Graaf and Rosaline Muraya (right), of Twaweza  After two hours of trampolining down dirt roads, getting lost more than once (thanks, Google

Week One and my students are already exposing my limitations – this is wonderful!

February 1, 2018
This term, I’m teaching a new course at LSE based on How Change Happens. It’s called ‘Advocacy, Campaigning and Grassroots activism’. It lasts 11 weeks, and is the first fully fledged university course I’ve taught, complete with lectures, seminars and assessed work (essays, but also blogs and vlogs). So far, I’m loving it. I realized how much fun this could become

Why systems thinking changes everything for activists and reformers

November 4, 2016
This week, the Guardian ran a very nicely edited ‘long read’ extract from How Change Happens covering some of the book’s central arguments, under the title Radical Thinking Reveals the Secrets of Making Change Happen. Here it is: Political and economic earthquakes are often sudden and unforeseeable, despite the false pundits who pop up later to claim they predicted them

Where are the gaps in the way we campaign?

August 11, 2016
The summer is a time for relaxed chats in my Brixton office. This week it was with a seasoned NGO campaigner who’s been on a break, and wondering about re-entry into the UK/global development and environment campaign scene at the research-y end. Where are the gaps and potential niches that a bright, reflective, experienced campaigner-turned-researcher could help to fill? Here’s a

Book Review: The Power of Positive Deviance

February 8, 2016
Another contribution to this week’s conference on ‘Power, Politics and Positive Deviance’, which I’m gutted to be missing. I finally got round to reading The Power of Positive Deviance, in which management guru Richard Pascale teams up with the two key practitioners – the Sternins (Jerry and Monique) – to analyse over 20 years of experience in developing the Positive

Why Positive Deviance could be the answer to working in complex, messy places like Papua New Guinea

November 27, 2014
Final post on PNG trip, after overview and paean to roads and leadership. Field trips operate on several different mental levels. Superficially, you are seeing new communities and programmes, and learning about the country. But there is also a constant process of interpretation, where you compare what you are seeing with what you have been reading back home or seen elsewhere, and

How complexity thinking cut malnutrition in Vietnam by two thirds

November 8, 2013
To end complexity week, another of the fascinating case studies from Ben Ramalingam’s Aid on the Edge of Chaos In December 1991, Jerry and Monique Sternin arrived in Vietnam so Jerry could take up the role of Save the Children US Country Director. The country was still labouring under a US-led economic embargo and had seriously high levels of child