Communication for Outcomes and Evolution

Perhaps one of the greatest efforts of human kind is its ability to create tangible change in community. This is  evidenced in even the most rudimentary coalitions that come together to serve the common good and underscore humankind’s ability to communicate for effective outcomes.

Yes, the zenith of human capacity, innovation and production is a testament to its ability to communicate and synthesize will to accomplish a common good.  Unfortunately in recent times and generally at the close of empires and kingdoms that capacity is lost.   It is lost in that it fails to truly serve and remedy issues in a community.

The concept of positive deviance could be easily employed in cities and nations around the world.  Positive deviance is the capacity to transfer healthy variable that produce good outcomes from one circumstance to another to create a similar positive outcome. 

There is a book of the same name that was published called, The Power of Positive Deviance: How Unlikely Innovators Solve the World’s Toughest Problems by Richard Pascale.  There is a particular story in that book demonstrating how positive nutritional outcomes from one southeast Asian community was transferred to another community facing major malnutrition.  It required a micro-analysis of feeding and nutrition habits in one community to identified the areas of positive deviance that could be transferred to the secondary community. The result was positive and the nutrition gap was closed. 

Anywhere there are haves and have-nots in proximity illustrate an opportunity for positive deviance.  We have the answer. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. There also has to be a commitment to communicating that need and supporting the resolution of the issue.   Many today believe they are a community because they know their neighbors, congregate at holidays and help a project from time to time.

However, in many enclaves, there is not yet a community that works. And communications and shared outcomes are the driving factor behind communities that work.  A community full of people who have not been able to solve educational problems or create sustainable methods for developing a local economy that works, is by definition failing in both communications and outcomes–and ultimately community itself.  Perhaps the general will to improve is lacking in some cases, but without it, community today becomes a collection of people living in close proximity.  What if no one cared that children were malnourished in a particular village in southeast Asia?

It is understandable that not every community can fund or locate resources, skill and education in their community.  But this is where communication thrives and most especially in the information age.  Communication can also help communities reach outside of their communities to help solve issues through partnerships, trade and quid pro quo arrangements.

China was especially good at this in the area of English communications, offering native-English speaking foreigners room and board in addition to salaries to prepare their students for the world market.  Today, many Asian countries have followed suit offering similar arrangements and now leveraging technology to help.

But, there has to be a hunger for change and advancement in local communities and that must be communicated explicitly. Technology and deep learning that transforms communities requires a conversation about outcomes and acquiring individuals who think outside of the box to help do it. These ideas must be communicated openly and outcomes evaluated for progress so that adequate changes can be made.

One of the major bottlenecks to good communication and achieving desired outcomes, is performance shortfalls and fear of replacement.  For many, the truth about outcomes and performance are hidden because of the perception that a lead official will be replaced if outcomes are not achieved.  And while this does make sense to “find someome who can do the job,” most often the problem is in the technique.   And even when it is the fault of the official, assigning blame can be counterproductive to solving the problem, particularly in countries where saving face or community respect is high.  As it happens, the drive to maintaim one’s status in the community overrides the actual good of the community.  We see this in areas of high corruption where the theft is at an all time high or duties are routinely neglected.  

Countries that struggle with developing good models for community most often struggle with good models of communication.  These difficulties may have been precipitated by historical contexts or gradual social changes over time.  The result is that such societies are choked by those who lie about performance, hide outcomes, steal funds and collude with outside interests to the detriment of the community.

Without remedy, the problem increases over time.  We see this in some developing nations where sellout culture is high and trust is low even within community.   There is no growth because the outcomes no longer become the goal of the participants.  Rather, the goal is position longevity,  kickbacks or acclaim. While this is not explicitly stated it is implied in the rampant decay, mismanagement, and underdevelopment of such communities where services routinely fail and citizens cannot actualize.

In such cases, parents scrape together their last money to send a child to school for marginal returns in the full outcome of the child’s life.  The areas of positive deviance have not been identified or applied to create real outcomes in anyone’s everyday life. Some in administration have gotten adept at disguising the failure with major foreign investments and institutions that do well, while the real community languishes.

Community members then must be vigilent about communicating the facts, actors and outcomes within their community.  Particularly those ones comfortable with undermining the community through attacking initiatives, community members and those who would bring real positive opportunity.  The lack of actual communication about the real state of community is severely lacking and solutions go unidentified.

It takes a village to raise a village.


Without real communication about the issues facing local communities there will remain stagnation where innovation could occur with some effort. Also, in certain societied, those prone to bottleneck systems through fear for loss of position or authority must be shifted rather than sacked.  It must be communicated that the ultimate goal is advancing the community and includes even the official. This can be done through more training, adjusting controls and re-orienting positions that better suit the talents of the official in question.

And while positive means should be used to communicate areas of improvement or change to get the best communication of outcomes; negative means should deter theft and bribery. Communicating zero tolerance with commensurate response is necessary to safeguard the community and achieve project improvements that work.

Nations that yearly experience the same issues are stagnant in their ability to solve their own issues with the resources they have. Where there is continued drought,  flooding, food insecurity, skills deficit, low trade, insecurity among a number of other maladies, implies practical solutions have not yet been identified.  They have not ably solved the issue through communicating resolutions and possible methods with the resources and populations they have on-hand. An example of surmoimting local challenges, is Singapore’s Four National Taps.  The southeast asian state improved its water system despite it’s limited capacities as an island nation through employing four methods.  It determined to find the most innovative method available to solve its issue with the resources it had–it put first things first. Nations and communities can improve other outcomes in trade, economy and development as we see in the cases we’ve so far examined. Almost anything can be modified or changed for better outcomes through honest and open communication about the problem and in some cases solved with the resources available.

An additional act of community communications, is the award or public recognition event.   These events communicate explicitly the goals, objectives and level of excellence desired within the community.  Communities that do not put excellence on display, miss the opportunity to communicate to the current brass, aspirants and future generations that excellence will be rewarded and recognized in community.  This kind of communication has immense power.

An example would be the American Oscars and Grammys, which many worldwide seek to earn as though they were a part of the American community.–and they are not.  They have adopted a benchmark outside of their community to aspire. It is a phenomena that underpins the concept that what you communicate as valuable can become valuable to many–even those who are not a part of your community. But most especially to those who are.

Commumities then have a living case study in American media dynamics on the critical ability to communicate community value in excellence, growth, innovation and improvement.  Why might a filmmaker from Lebanon more honored to receive an Oscar than an award from his peers in country? And why does a Ghanian artist strive to win a Grammy over national recognition from his home country? Communities must think about how they communicate value.

Communication can be the starting point for change, and help to facilitate discussion about measures to ensure targets are met. There can be dialogue on how to adjust methods for better outcomes and reposition individuals for maximization of skills, without discarding the official.  The goal of total community improvement must be communicated with standards rewarded and increased to provoke excellence.

There is not a need for suspended animation in unique times as these.  The current age is actually the best time to improve or shift local community and change the parameters of engagement through constructive communication that leads to methods, plans and measures to determine whether outcomes are being achieved. For a community to be excited about the future, it needs to know they have or can acquire the tools, capacity, collective will and communication to achieve a new reality in line with their dreams and not their present reality.

The goal to act collectively toward progress requires communication.  Explicity stating the need and hammering out a process. Those tasked must be serious about acquiring the knowhow and skill, even if that skill must come from without the community.  And a commitment to maintain that skill within the community must be maintained generationally.  The prioritization of outcomes and change must be communicated and awarded accordingly.

Community and communication is absolutely inextricably interwoven.  And it can be leveraged to apply positive deviance, encourage excellence and accomplish outcomes through a shared understanding of the problem and the solution (s). Community and communication works when people feel safe in their enclaves; are achieving their goals: and improving their way of life. 

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