Driver Diagram

Key driver diagrams are used by improvement teams for analysis, organization and communication of information to help direct the improvement work, as they answer the question, “What change can we make that will result in improvement?” Utilizing this tool requires teams to identify their theories or “key drivers” (factors) influencing the project. What factor(s) is causing, or really driving the results? What is the underlying cause of the problem? What factor(s) is controlling our outcome? Once the “drivers” have been identified, the teams are ready to address each of these systematically, including their hypothesis for sustainable changes.

By using a key driver diagram, change teams focus on the influences in cause and effect relationships in complex systems. Driver diagrams are structured logic charts with at least 3 levels, which help teams to “see” these relationships and to organize their work. The first column in the diagram is the project AIM. The second column lists the identified “key drivers” (elements, factors or influences) contributing directly to the AIM. Teams may wish to identify both primary and secondary drivers. The third column includes “HOW“ to address these drivers in order to reach the AIM. This column might list areas for improvement, specific interventions, potential PDSA cycles, and change concepts.

The Key driver diagram provides a “theory of change” and is often used as a planning and analysis tool at the initiation of a project. Drivers need to be updated systematically throughout the life of a project, in order to acknowledge continuing improvement and extend the life of the improvement work.

Written by Brenda Barker