Adaptive Positive Deviance Leadership (iv)

Part four of this article series covered the importance of including diverse perspectives in APD initiatives and the need to have the group doing the work feel a sense of ownership in the initiative.  In the final article in this week’s series about APD leadership I discuss two important things that APD leaders with positional authority may need to do to help the group do their work: removing barriers to progress and making the time and space available for people to do this important work.

Removing Barriers

Sometimes the group will hit a roadblock that they can’t negotiate by themselves and they need the help of the titled leader to help remove/overcome this barrier.  It might be they want to work with an individual or department that they don’t have a relationship with.

Maybe they sense that their intervention is going to rock the boat or ruffle some feathers.  Whatever it is, APD Leadership requires you to have their back and work with the organization’s hierarchy to enable their request to take place.  And while you’re interfacing with the formal leadership of the organization on their behalf, you’re also sharing the experiences of what’s been going on, creating buzz and inviting others to come and see and, if they choose, to join in the initiative as well.

Create Time and Space for APD Work

Finally, it’s important for APD Leaders to support the APD process by creating the time and space in which to do this work.  This is not an add-on, to be done on off hours, weekends, or squeezed into lunch hour.  This is real work for a serious problem that is causing serious pain and harm.  This means pulling at least some people from their normal jobs to work on this and making sure their jobs get done while they’re working on this.

And everyone in the group needs to participate, at least with regards to hearing about what’s been happening, what’s being learned and what behaviors seem to be positively deviant that the group would like them to start doing (or at least try).  Meetings shouldn’t be long- probably 30-45 minutes is right, and the size of the core group working on this should be 4-8 people ideally.  This group should meet every 1-2 weeks.

Expect the work to take some time to find your ultimate solution(s)- at least 3 months, realistically probably 6-12 months.  Be patient, trust the APD process, and be amazed at what’s discovered and learned, the way the group interacts with each other, and the outcomes that are generated.  In my next article in this series I’ll be writing about Smart Networks and how they’re critical for successful APD initiatives.