The big idea
The concept behind bright spots is that often big problems are most easily solved by a series of small solutions; there is seldom one big solution. The approach is based on the work that Jerry Sternin, of Save the Children, did in Vietnam to improve infant nutrition. He found that there were a number of mothers who, within very constrained resources, were bringing up well-nourished children. He was able to help these mothers, these ‘bright spots’, to share their successes with others, and in doing so reduced malnutrition by 85% in the area. This bright spots approach was introduced to organisational practices in the form of ‘positive deviance’ in Surfing the Edge of Chaos (Pascale, Milleman, & Gioja, 2000).
The purpose of identifying bright spots is to find what has been going right and amplify those successful practices. All too often we focus on the things that have gone wrong rather than learning from what has worked well.
The bright spots tool takes you through a series of steps to help you identify and build on your successes. If you are a sole trader, you can do it on your own or with a group of your stakeholders. If you have a larger business, you can do it with your team or teams. This tool will need a reasonable time commitment to collect the information you need to confirm and build on your bright spots.