The Principle of Positive Deviance

Henry King is a brilliant lecturer. One of the topics he discussed today was the principle of positive deviance. It approaches a problem by studying the unusual success stories within a community to find out what characteristics made the exception. For example, in the case of malnourishment in Vietnam, he looked for children that bucked the trend. What he found was that these children were fed the same amounts of rice but over more increments. Their diet was supplemented by shrimp and potato leaves. And they exhibited better hygiene. The discovery creates an immediately scalable and virtually free solution. I wonder what a study of companies that survive economic downturns would reveal.

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