Published on March 2, 2012

Webinar 2: Positively Deviant

By Tim Hughes

Tim is Open Government Programme Manager at Involve and coordinator of the UK Open Government Network - a coalition of active citizens and civil society organisations committed to making government work better for people through increased transparency, participation and accountability.

Today, 2nd March, we held the second webinar in our series on community engagement for the Creative Councils programme. In this session, Jane Lewis, from Woodward Lewis and Susan Ritchie, an Involve associate and director of Mutual Gain, gave an introduction to Positive Deviance.

Positive Deviance (PD) is an approach to social and behaviour change within communities, which is based on the observation that: “In every community there are people whose unusual practices or behaviours enable them to find better solutions to problems than their neighbours who have access to the same resources.”

As Jane and Sue set out in their presentation, the PD approach has six phases: The first involves finding the right people and starting point. The second is to find the focus – defining the problem and objectives. The third is a ‘treasure hunt’ – seeking to identify the norm and deviations from it. The forth shares the “how” – looking at what can be adopted. The fifth is a moment of reflection – asking are things improving and are the aims being met? And the sixth looks to scale up and build on the results.

During the course of the webinar, Jane and Sue introduced us to the origins of the PD approach, spoke about the principles that underpin it, compared and contrasted it to other approaches, and gave some examples of it in use.

The session was packed full of information and inspiration, so here is a recording of the webinar for your enjoyment:

You can also flick through the slides from Jane and Sue’s presentation:

And here’s commentary of the session from Twitter:

The next webinar, to be held on 16th March, will be on elected representatives and community engagement. Mary Reid will draw on her past experience as a councillor and Cabinet member, and as former Chair of the National Project for Local e-Democracy. She will discuss what motivates elected representatives to engage with their residents (and the perceived barriers) and how certain decision-making structures and strategies can lead to more public involvement, better outcomes and happier councillors.

Check out our events page for more information on the webinar series. If you would like to join the mailing list to receive invitations to future webinars, email me at tim@involve.org.uk.

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