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Jerry Sternin, Positive Deviance

Jerry SterninIt’s a sad anniversary for me today – a year since the wonderful Jerry Sternin unexpectedly died. Jerry’s the founder of the Positive Deviance Initiative, and his insights on positive deviance open up a powerful and tested way to create change is large systems. I first came across his ideas in a Fast Company magazine article at a time when I was a consultant in a change management organization. They were inspiring and sobering – inspiring because of the impact the PD approach was having, sobering because it seemed to be a far cry from what I was (not) achieving in my work. Jerry and his team did fabulous work with Save the Children in Bangladesh and other countries around the world, and the PD approach is being used to tackle challenges from infection in hospital to female genital mutilation.

In our conversation we:

  • learn about the origins of PD in Vietnam in 1990 – and how a crisis gave birth to a new approach to change
  • cover the broad principles of PD – simple and powerful
  • dig down into some of the counter-intuitive genius of PD – including how you look for people least likely to succeed to find the seeds of future success
  • how accountability was a positive force for change and success

Jerry’s death was a sad day indeed, and I’m delighted to be able to share this interview with you.

Listen to my interview with Jerry Sternin.


0:16 Michael introduces Jerry Sternin

2:49 Learn about the origins of PD in Vietnam in 1990 – and how a crisis gave birth to a new approach to change

6:25 Cover the broad principles of PD – simple and powerful

12:55 Dig down into some of the counter-intuitive genius of PD – including how you look for people least likely to succeed to find the seeds of future success

17:26 How accountability was a positive force for change and success

20:28 What you have to say no to

27:07 How to find out more about Jerry Sternin and PD work

28:16 Michael closes the interview

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