Basic Field Guide to the Positive Deviance Approach

The Positive Deviance Initiative, Tufts University, 2010.


This article provides a basic overview of positive deviance, an asset-based approach to problem solving.


explanation of positive deviance, how to implement PD, the four phases of PD, ten criteria for determining if using PD is appropriate for the situation at hand

Recommended Audience

Clergy and lay leaders



Practical Applications

  • Identify if a problem can be solved through a PD approach using the criteria listed.
  • Train facilitators in the PD approach by sharing this article.

About the Contributor

Tim Shapiro

Tim Shapiro is the Indianapolis Center’s president. He began serving the Center in 2003 after 18 years in pastoral ministry. For 14 years, Tim served Westminster Presbyterian Church in Xenia, Ohio. Prior to his pastorate at Westminster, he was pastor of Bethlehem Presbyterian Church in Logansport, Indiana. He holds degrees from Purdue University and Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.

Tim’s interest in how congregations learn to do new things is represented in his book How Your Congregation LearnsAfter his extensive work on the Center’s Sacred Space initiative, Tim co-authored the book Holy Places: Matching Sacred Space with Mission and MessageHe has also authored several articles, including Applying Positive Deviance and The Congregation of Theological Coherence.

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