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Positive Deviance and Prospiracies

April 18, 2012

A few weeks ago, someonetweeted this link on reducing infections in hospitals. I’m not in the healthcare industry and perhaps there are some downsides to this approach, but for someone who has fully experienced the Knowing-Doing gap, it really caught my attention. The video (a CBC news story) is about 8 minutes long, but I think it’s worth the time.

The simple things in that stand out to me in this video:

  • Encourage people to solve the problem themselves
  • Stop reminding people to do basic things (“it’s not that people don’t know what to do, it’s that they don’t do it”)
  • Use of a code word: “Nurse Jackson” for all to hold each other accountable
  • Use reminders that make a difference (administrator who wears scrubs to signal “sterile environment”)
  • Takes longer for things to percolate (look for those bright spots, as the Heath brothers might say)
  • Front line teams are the change agents

I wondered what the approach was when I first saw the video, but then I went on holiday so thought I’d look it up on my return. A little googling today turned up this: http://www.stopsuperbugs.com/getting-started/get-ready-for-launch/, more information on the Positive Deviance site itself.

Change is hard and messy, but I like models that are action focused and pragmatic.

It also reminded me of a comment that someone made to me about starting a “prospiracy” awhile ago, which I had to look up! It’s…

“…a secret plan by a group to do something beneficial.”

It’s like an underground movement. This person was finding the mainstream too conservative, they were looking for ways to disrupt learning in a positive way. I was intrigued by this and wondered how many others are in the same boat, but are looking for a way to take action instead.

Have you used positive deviance? What’s your take on prospiracy? Do you have other “action-oriented” approached to share?

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