Phase 3 Orientation:
Self-Assess to Stay on Target

Improvement science moves through several distinct phases. While the process is not always linear, often shifting back and forth between phases as your learning evolves and sparks new questions, identifying where you are within the work is critical to taking effective action.

As you begin Measuring Your Progress in Phase 4, we recommend you complete the steps below to ensure you get meaningful results.

Are you ready to move on? 

You’re ready if you have: 



created a problem statement defining the problem that your improvement team will solve


defined an aim statement for your improvement and completed a driver diagram that has allowed you to come up with a theory of improvement for achieving it


identified clear and measurable change ideas that you hypothesize will help you reach your aim


completed 2–3 PDSA tests (aka your first PDSA burst), which is ideal for learning how the PDSA testing process can be supported by strong measures, although some improvement projects may require measures before starting


reflected on your PDSA burst, drawing conclusions and recording learning and its implications for future work

Running PDSA cycles will become the largest single part of the improvement process and the centerpiece of your future work.
This stage is also where the process becomes less linear. If you think your project could benefit from taking time to think about the types of evidence and data to collect before running tests, please preview the activities below first.

As you begin testing, you may need to pause to reflect on your progress and revisit the work from another phase.

In practice, implementing changes should lead to new insights and ideas that might in turn lead to:

For more help making these decisions, see the “What Next?” tool in Phase 5: Scaling and Sharing.