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Education Pathway: Step One – Understanding

Welcome to Step One of the Education Pathway: Understanding.

The aim of Step One is to provide you with a base level of knowledge of quality improvement (QI) methodologies and tools, which will enable you to plan, deliver, or contribute, to a QI project.

We have reviewed and tested existing, well-established, online training material and this page will sign post you to free QI training available.

To achieve Step One you need to demonstrate you have completed the training in the 5 key areas outlined below. Please click on the module links to complete the training and then get your line manager to confirm you have done this by signing your QI Passport. This should then be sent to for endorsement by the Academy team. Once this is done you will be eligible to move on to Step Two – Delivering.

NB: Please see the Education Pathway Guidance for how to complete your QI Passport.

The training modules make up five main categories of QI knowledge required to plan, deliver, or contribute to a QI project.

QI Tool/Method


Root cause analysis

What we see as a problem that needs fixing is often not the cause of the issue at hand. Sometimes we need to explore the problem in depth to find out the true cause, or, the root cause.
Understanding a problem is the first step in the Improvement Journey. Being clear on what the problem is means the efforts taken in planning the improvement are focused in the correct place to get the best outcome.
Please undertake the following modules to gain an understanding of root cause analysis and some tools you can use to undertake this process.
1.    Theory of Change
2.    Five Whys Technique
3.    Process Mapping – content covered in module 1 

Creative Thinking

Once you have a clearly defined problem, it is time to start thinking about solutions. Creative thinking is a way of looking at problems  from a fresh perspective that suggests sometimes unorthodox solutions. Creative thinking can be stimulated in many ways. One solution is brainstorming.
Once ideas are generated, which one do you pick to test whether it can make an improvement to your current situation? A simple tool such as a Prioritisation Matrix is a good place to start.
4.    Brainstorming
5.    Prioritisation Matrix

Driver Diagram

When you have identified your problem and have an agreed idea(s) on how to try and make your improvement, you need to plan your improvement activity.
A driver diagram is a tool that can help with this. It can provide a way of systematically laying out aspects of an improvement project so they can be discussed and agreed on.
6.    Driver Diagram

Model for Improvement

The Model for Improvement is a systematic approach to testing your ideas for making improvement. It is a widely recognised process within the healthcare environment and frequently creates positive outcomes for improvement when applied correctly. The model is not time consuming, in fact, it excels by being a fast approach. Test small, test quickly, fail quickly and move onto a new idea, or hopefully, see results and begin to spread the change.
The approach relies on three questions:
  • What are we trying to accomplish?
  • How will we know that a change is an improvement?
  • What changes can we make that will result in improvement?
Modules 7- 9 will help you understand how to apply this approach.
7.    Aims statement
8.    Measuring improvement
9.    PDSA testing cycles – content covered in module 1


Stakeholder Analysis

When making a change it is important to understand who should be involved, who the change will impact and who should be made aware of it.
Stakeholder Analysis enables you to identify those people and then begin to categorise them based on their level on involvement. This will help you establish how to use your time and resources effectively maintaining your stakeholder’s involvement and commitment.
10.  Stakeholder Analysis

Communication Planning

Once you have completed your analysis, it is important to plan how you will now effectively engage and communicate with your stakeholders, focusing on those whose support you need to deliver your project.
Developing a communications and engagement plan will help you to manage your communication and engagement activities.
11.  Communication Planning

Education Pathway: Step Two >

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