Atul Gawande's book better, reviewed below, celebrates the value of positive deviance. It has inspired an on-going challenge idea that I pose to all of you:
Keep a lookout for any examples you see of contemporary positive deviants (Gawande's term), or mavericks, in your favorite sources. These are people who, because they buck the trend, adopt new ideas when they are still unpopular, or make new connections between things, are able to see things anew and make a useful change for the better. That change can be one of perspective, an original idea, it can be a change in method of performing some act, or the creation or alteration of some tangible physical thing. It can come from the world of politics, science, arts, that thing we call culture, or anywhere else I'm not thinking of.
Save up for really good ones, mavericks are rare by definition. When you really think you have one, send me an email with a link to your source and I'll post it, or if you put something on your own blog I'll link to your post. I'm the final arbiter of which submissions are really good ones (this is my blog, after all).
The idea is to look for people who are deviating now, but below you'll find some more classic examples and one recent one. In the left column: Galileo, Dr. Viginia Apgar, Louis Pasteur, Virginia Woolf. On the right: Patricia Churchland and Meredith Gourdine. Now venture forth and be vigilant.