Basic Field Guide to the Positive Deviance Approach

The Positive Deviance Initiative, Tufts University, 2010. Accessed April 14, 2017.

“The ‘positive deviance’ (PD) approach is a problem solving, asset-based approach grounded in the fact that communities have assets or resources they haven’t tapped.” In the PD process, these untapped assets and resources produce the solutions. This guidebook explains PD and its implementation. PD includes ongoing observation and assessment during its four phases: define, determine, discover, and design. Among the items discussed are identifying those with PD skills, how to engage other community leaders and organizations, communication hints, suggestions for facilitators, and ten criteria required for determining if a problem is an appropriate PD initiative. Their {{website |}} offers additional helps, such as “inquiry tools.” Two strengths of PD are 1) both individuals and groups can use it; and 2) no “special resources” are needed for implementation. PD is appropriate for any individual or group from any faith tradition.