Building a driver diagram

Driver diagrams are a visual display of team’s ideas for what will “drive” or support the project aims. Driver diagrams are a type of chart with three or more levels.

These include:

  • An aim (the project's goal)
  • Primary drivers (High level factors that you need to consider or influence to achieve your aim)
  • Secondary drivers (Factors that underpin your primary drivers. Secondary drivers are linked to your project activities also known as ‘change ideas’)
  • Change ideas (These are the ideas for changes you plan to test to support achieving your aim; they can be linked to one or more secondary drivers)

Driver diagrams provide a ‘theory of change’ and fulfil a range of functions:

  • Support a team to explore what they think needs to be looked at in order to achieve their goal (aim)
  • Consider how factors are linked
  • Act as a tool to be able to summarise the project's change strategy
  • Support you to establish how you will measure your aim.

Remember that healthcare improvement projects function in a complex system, it is unlikely that a single person has a clear view of the entire system. When developing your driver diagram, enlist the support of team members who are familiar with the system you are trying to change. Remember you should always include service user input when developing your project.

Example Driver Diagram

Building a successful driver diagram:

Decide on your project's goal. This is your aim. Your aim should be specific and measurable. Refer to the section on Developing your aim for more information.

Identify high level factors and important areas that need to be considered to achieve your aim. These are your Primary drivers.

Secondary drivers are the ‘influencers’ of Primary drivers, you can establish your secondary drivers by identifying activities which influence your Primary drivers. Secondary drivers can link to one or more Primary drivers.

Consider your change ideas carefully. These are the ideas you will put in place to change the system. They will form your Plan-Do-Study-Act cycles (PDSA) and become part of your project plan.

Once you have your change ideas and a completed driver diagram you are ready to start testing your change ideas in PDSA cycles.

This template can be used to draft your driver diagram. 

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