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During our discussion group exploring TVOL’s Third Way Series, we asked the question “What is Positive Deviance?” There’s a small chance that you know all about it and a larger chance that you’ve never heard of it at all. That’s because successful cultural change methods have a way of emerging at a particular time and place, spreading to a degree on the basis of their success, but then coming up against boundaries, beyond which they remain unknown. So it is with Positive Deviance, which has been used to prevent child malnourishment in Vietnam, female circumcision in Egypt, and even improve an American pharmaceutical company’s outreach to doctors. Our guide to this effective change method is David K. Hurst, a Management educator and author of The New Ecology of Leadership: Business Mastery in a Chaotic World among other books. Sage Gibbons, budding evolutionist and TVOL’s Marketing and Development Strategist, joins me as guest host as we explore what Positive Deviance teaches us about the Third Way and how a formal articulation of the Third Way can add value to Positive Deviance. 

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Published On: August 16, 2020

David Sloan Wilson

David Sloan Wilson

David Sloan Wilson is SUNY Distinguished Professor of Biology and Anthropology at Binghamton University. He applies evolutionary theory to all aspects of humanity in addition to the rest of life, both in his own research and as director of EvoS, a unique campus-wide evolutionary studies program that recently received NSF funding to expand into a nationwide consortium. His books include Darwin’s Cathedral: Evolution, Religion, and the Nature of Society, Evolution for Everyone: How Darwin’s Theory Can Change the Way We Think About Our Lives, and The Neighborhood Project: Using Evolution to Improve My City, One Block at a Time and Does Altruism Exist? Culture, Genes, and the Welfare of Others. .

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