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Positive Deviance: An Elegant Solution to a Complex Problem

Lindberg, Curt DMan, MHA; Clancy, Thomas R. MBA, PhD, RN

Journal of Nursing Administration: April 2010 - Volume 40 - Issue 4 - p 150-153
doi: 10.1097/NNA.0b013e3181d40e39
Departments: Managing Organizational Complexity

As systems evolve over time, their natural tendency is to become increasingly more complex. Studies in the field of complex systems have generated new perspectives on management in social organizations such as hospitals. Much of this research appears as a natural extension of the cross-disciplinary field of systems theory. This is the 13th in a series of articles applying complex systems science to the traditional management concepts of planning, organizing, directing, coordinating, and controlling. This article provides one example of how concepts taken from complex systems theory can be applied to real-world problems facing nurses today.

Authors' Affiliations: Chief Learning and Science Officer (Dr Lindberg), Plexus Institute, Bordentown, New Jersey; Clinical Professor (Dr Clancy), School of Nursing, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.

Corresponding author: Dr Clancy, School of Nursing, University of Minnesota, 5-140 Weaver-Densford Hall, 308 Harvard St SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455 (

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.