Team Composition is Key to QI Success 

In order to thrive —not just survive— nonprofit organizations must be adept at quality improvement (QI). Much like championship sports teams, the key to an effective QI program is making sure that the right people are on the team.

The QI team or committee is the group of individuals within an agency charged with identifying and implementing improvement efforts. Optimal team size is between 5 and 8 members, although this may vary by QI project. The most important requirement is not size, but the diversity of the participants. The team needs a variety of individuals who have different roles and perspectives on the QI opportunity. 

Who’s Your QI Champ? 

The QI team should have a clearly named “practice champion” who is committed to the ideal and process of continuous improvement— they are instrumental in leading change from within an organization. The role of the QI team champion is to:

  • Ensure that the team functions effectively, maintains momentum, and meets deadlines
  • Create an environment where everyone is heard
  • Educate peers and other staff
  • Be a resource or mentor
  • Foster and reinforce changes for improvement

There is also support for having multiple champions within an organization who cooperate or “co-perform” QI duties.

Draft A Winning QI Team

The first task for QI champions is to guide team composition. The QI team should include individuals representing functional areas where the process occurs and where changes are being made. It should include the professions and roles that “touch” the different parts of the process, including staff members who:

  • Provide input to the process
  • Perform one or more steps in the process
  • Receive output from the process

In addition, staff of varying levels of seniority should also be included. Ask yourself, do we have: 

  • A long-time member of the organization with deep institutional knowledge and perspectives?
  • A person new to the organization, bringing fresh perspectives?

Finally, effective QI programs require team members who work well together. Team members must:

  • Be respectful of each other
  • Welcome diverse views and experiences
  • Share a common vision
  • Be committed to improve the organization
  • Be able to communicate effectively 

If you’re looking for a formal way to evaluate potential QI team members, see the Public Health Foundation’s Team Member Selection Matrix to rate QI team candidates on 34 characteristics. 

Get in the Game

With a QI champion and team in place, your non-profit agency is ready to begin the process of quality improvement. The good news is that success breeds success. The overall experience of working on a QI team typically inspires employees to seek out another process improvement experience. 

For more information on how CCNY can help your organization on its QI journey, call (716) 855-0007, ext. 306 or e-mail