Driver Diagram

What is it?

A driver diagram is a way of visualising the ‘drivers’ or forces behind what is going to make an improvement. It’s a way of grouping together change ideas so that you can get a bigger picture about what you’re working on.

Click on diagrams to enlarge

Why use it?

A driver diagram can be used to see how change ideas link into the improvement aim. It helps to show which parts of the system need changing according to the whole team, not just one person. A driver diagram helps to provide some order and themes to the ideas that you want to test.

It helps to understand the current system and to develop the aim and change ideas.

How to use it?

There are a number of ways of getting started with a driver diagram. It works best as a group exercise with people who use the system and personally experience the element you are trying to improve.

Have a look at the tips on the NES website for more information.

  • Start with your aim written on one side of the page. Think about specific things you could do to achieve this aim (e.g. ‘Have a designated whole team coffee break once a week’ is a change idea, ‘improve work culture’ isn’t).

  • It can be useful to write these ideas on post-it notes as you want to be flexible with them later.

  • As you create change ideas, put them on the opposite side to the paper as the aim.

  • Once you have a few change ideas, look over them all and see if you can find any themes. These are broader and less specific (e.g. culture, equipment, communication). Group your change ideas together with these headings. These are your primary drivers.

  • Some of your primary drivers may be ‘big’ concepts and could be broken down further. For example, if thinking about ‘communication’ as a primary driver, this could be broken down into internal communication and external communication.

  • As you go along, you might come up with new change ideas. Make sure you add them to your page.

Click here for an example of how to create a driver diagram.

More information

Quality Improvement Zone - NES - for further information and templates

IHI - for further information and examples

NHS Improvement - for templates and more information

Want to know more about driver diagrams? Want some help making your own?

Contact the team