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Success Stories


Center for Congregations President Tim Shapiro describes challenges that congregations have successfully addressed using positive deviance.

What is Positive Deviance?

Positive deviance is an intervention that solves a difficult problem by identifying people within your community who are effectively navigating the challenge. Then the community is encouraged to adopt their successful behaviors.

Ask Yourself

  • Have you tried other approaches and not made much progress?
  • Is this an issue that affects many people?
  • Is this a community or social service issue that stems from behaviors?
  • Do you have time and focus to devote to this problem?

If so, positive deviance may be a good fit for your congregation.

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A Good Place to Start

Look at the Basic Field Guide. This orienting guide explains the steps of the positive deviance approach. Want to know how it worked in other congregations? Read the Applying Positive Deviance article.

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Positive deviance is an asset-based approach used to address many social challenges. It has been used in third world countries. It has been employed by those trying to solve United States inner...

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“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...

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Far more than “happy talk,” positive change processes refer to a series of techniques and tools that help congregations to identify their life-giving core and design a preferred future. This...

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An excellent resource for Catholic parishes and organizations interested in learning about and using Appreciative Inquiry. Written from a Catholic perspective, the book offers stories from Catholic...

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Drawing on a diverse group of organizations and settings, the authors, who are nationally known Appreciative Inquiry experts, illustrate the many ways Appreciative Inquiry can be used successfully....

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Based on extensive personal and focus group interviews using Appreciative Inquiry questions, the authors, who are nationally known experts in the field of organizational leadership and development,...

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Recent studies and congregational experience show that a positive approach can successfully address “adaptive” or non-technical issues in a way that a focus on problem-solving cannot. This article,...

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The intervention called positive deviance asserts that the solution to any problem is hidden in plain sight. For every unsolvable problem, the solution already exists within the community. It is a...

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If you are interested in asset-based change, this 47-minute video is well worth your time. Richard Pascale, author of the book The Power of Positive Deviance, defines “positive deviants” as those...

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