Process Changes vs Culture Changes

We have talked recently at our QI Open Sessions about the difference between process changes and culture changes and why, to make a successful, sustainable improvement, we need both.  Here’s a quick summary.

Process changes are changes in the way a task is performed, for example how a patient is admitted or how medication is administered. Culture changes are more fundamental types of changes involving a shift in the perspective and values of a group of people.

If we use hand washing as an example…


– Changing the way people actually clean their hands would be a process change

– Changing people’s attitudes toward hand hygiene would be a culture change

A few points to remember:
1. Changing opinions and culture will not necessarily result in process improvement
2. But if an improvement team focuses all its efforts on process change only, behaviour and outcomes are unlikely to shift as well
3. Process change and culture change must work together to achieve improved performance
4. While one does not always accompany the other, both are critical to achieve success

Hope this helps.

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