Implementation Drivers

The Active Implementation Drivers are based on the commonalities among successfully implemented practices and programs found in the literature and derived from current best practices.  In these reviews, NIRN staff carefully reviewed the literature and best practices and made lists of facilitators and barriers documented in the literature.

Making Lists

Facilitators Barriers



Intervention Training

Staff Attitudes

Receptivity to Training

Rapport with Client

Immediate Appointment


Clinical Inertia

Note part of role


Lack of:

  • Funding
  • Knowledge
  • Time
  • Belief in usefulness
  • Comfort with topic
  • Motivation
  • Support after Training
  • Managerial Support

Barriers and facilitatorsto implementation: a systematic review of qaulitative evidence in 47 papers (two systematic reviews, 6 RCTs, 25 cross-sectional studies, and 14 qualitative studies.


As the staff worked to make sense of those lists, the Active Implementation Drivers emerged.  Imagine making lists based on several hundred implementation evaluation articles.  This particular list is from Johnson, Jackson, Guillaume, Meier, & Goyder (2010).  The reviewers then tried to make sense of the lists as shown below.  The Active Implementation Drivers proved to be a good way to go from making lists to making sense.

Making Sense

Implementation Drivers are the engine of change (Fixsen et al., 2005).  As with the Stages, Drivers are dynamic and interact in interesting ways to produce consistent uses of innovations and reliable outcomes for students and others.

Implementation Drivers have been categorized as Competency, Organization, and Leadership supports. Effective innovations are, by definition, new ways of work.  For competency development, new ways of work need to be taught and learned through training and coaching with practitioners (teachers, district staff, implementation team members) who have been selected (mutual selection for individuals is similar to the Exploration Stage for organizations) to be the first to use the innovation.  As coaches support practitioners in learning the innovation and as performance (fidelity) assessments are used to monitor the progress of teaching and learning, organization and system facilitators and barriers are identified.

Organization supports are developed by facilitative administrators (superintendents, principals, non-teaching staff) who change organization practices and support systems interventions so they can establish a hospitable environment for the use of effective innovations and the use of effective implementation supports for practitioners.  Having a decision support data system is an essential component for guiding the processes of establishing the innovation, the implementation supports for practitioners, and the assessments of immediate outcomes.  For example, data may show low fidelity performance for a group of teachers being coached by a given individual while other teachers readily are meeting performance criteria.  These data might support a decision to focus on the quality of coaching rather than the quality of teaching.

Finally, implementation requires leadership that can help resolve adaptive issues (convening groups to identify problems, arriving at consensus regarding how to approach a solution, detecting progress toward resolution) and technical problems (setting goals, managing time and effort, solving problems of known dimensions) that arise in the course of initiating changes in the ways of work and managing change in organizations and systems.

These interactive processes are integrated to maximize their influence on staff behavior and the organizational culture. The interactive implementation drivers also compensate for one another so that a weakness in one component can be overcome by strengths in other components. These core implementation components (implementation drivers) are shown in the figure below.

Click on the graphic to find out more about each implementation driver,
or use the next button to proceed through the drivers in order.


Find out more about Coaching
Find out more about Performance Assessment
Find out more about Systems Intervention
Find out more about Facilitative Administration
Find out more about Decision Support Data System
Find out more about Leadership
Find out more about Leadership
Find out more about Selection
Find out more about Training
Find out more about Integrated and Compensatory