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Establishing an organizational culture to enable quality improvement

Barbara Trerise (Providence Health Care, Vancouver, Canada)

Leadership in Health Services

ISSN: 1751-1879

Article publication date: 4 May 2010




The aim of this paper is to describe the intentional and sustained strategy of Providence Health Care to build a culture focused on quality, safety and innovation.


Providence Health Care undertook a number of strategies to build a culture that would enable the organization to live its value of Excellence. Objectives were defined and a framework to achieve those objectives was established. Changes were made to the organizational structure to better support change and improvement. Key leadership and governance structures were established to enable the development of culture, monitor performance, identify improvement priorities, and support teams. These efforts were accompanied by active leadership from the Chief Executive Officer, team and staff development programs and standardization of project management methodologies.


While the journey is in progress, significant improvements have been accomplished. Examples are provided to demonstrate the depth and breadth of those improvements. The key lessons learned are that culture building requires patience and a comprehensive effort that is sustained over time and changes in administration.


This paper is of value to organizations interested in building a culture that enables and sustains quality improvement and in the case of a health care organization, one that is integrated from the Board to the bedside.



Trerise, B. (2010), "Establishing an organizational culture to enable quality improvement", Leadership in Health Services, Vol. 23 No. 2, pp. 130-140.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2010, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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