Driving Change: How Principals Can Utilize Goals and Drivers to Transform SchoolsDriving Change:

As educational leaders, principals are constantly striving to improve their schools, foster a culture of learning, and drive positive change. However, initiating change can often be complex and overwhelming. One effective tool that principals can leverage to navigate this process is the driver diagram. In this blog, we will explore how principals and other instructional leaders can use driver diagrams to initiate change in their schools, highlighting the importance of primary and secondary drivers in the process.

Understanding Driver Diagrams

A driver diagram is a visual tool that helps to systematically organize and prioritize the various factors that influence a desired outcome. It provides a clear roadmap for change, guiding leaders through the process of identifying key drivers and determining the specific actions needed to achieve their goals.

Identifying Primary and Secondary Drivers

In the context of a driver diagram, drivers refer to the key factors that contribute to the desired outcome. These drivers can be further classified into two categories: primary and secondary drivers.

Primary Drivers: Primary drivers are the core elements that have the most direct impact on the desired outcome. They are the essential factors that must be addressed in order to achieve meaningful change. For example, in the context of improving student achievement, primary drivers might include effective teaching practices, targeted intervention strategies, and an affirming school culture.

Secondary Drivers: Secondary drivers are the supporting elements that contribute to the effectiveness of the primary drivers. While they may not have as direct of an impact on the desired outcome as primary drivers, they play a crucial role in facilitating the implementation of primary drivers. For instance, secondary drivers in the context of improving student achievement might include professional development opportunities for teachers, quality observation and feedback, meaningful data collection and analysis, access to resources and technology, and parent and community engagement initiatives.

Utilizing Driver Diagrams in Schools

Let’s explore how principals can use driver diagrams to initiate change in their schools:

  • Identify the Desired Outcome: The first step is to clearly define the desired outcome or goal that the school wants to achieve. Whether it’s improving student achievement, increasing graduation rates, or fostering a positive school climate, having a clear vision of the desired outcome is essential.
  • Identify Primary Drivers: Once the desired outcome has been established, begin identifying the primary drivers that will directly influence the achievement of that outcome. This involves analyzing data, conducting needs assessments, and engaging stakeholders to determine the key factors that need to be addressed.
  • Identify Secondary Drivers: With the primary drivers identified, you can then identify the secondary drivers that will support the implementation of the primary drivers. This may involve identifying resources, building partnerships, and developing strategies to overcome potential barriers to implementation.
  • Develop Action Plans: Once the primary and secondary drivers have been identified, develop action plans outlining the specific steps that will be taken to address each driver. These action plans should include clear objectives, timelines, and responsibilities to ensure accountability and progress monitoring.
  • Monitor Progress: Finally, regularly monitor progress towards the desired outcome, adjusting their approach as needed based on ongoing data analysis and feedback. This may involve conducting regular assessments, soliciting input from stakeholders, and making necessary revisions to the action plans.


In conclusion, driver diagrams are powerful tools that principals can use to initiate change and drive improvement in their schools. By systematically identifying primary and secondary drivers and developing targeted action plans, principals can create a clear roadmap for achieving their goals and ultimately creating a positive impact on student learning and success.

You can access our free driver diagram template to get one step closer to taking your school to the next level.