• implementation research;
  • quality improvement;
  • evidence-based medicine;
  • guidelines

The mission of the Veterans Health Administration's (VHA) quality enhancement research initiative (QUERI) is to enhance the quality of VHA health care by implementing clinical research findings into routine care. This paper presents lessons that QUERI investigators have learned through their initial attempts to pursue the QUERI mission. The lessons in this paper represent those that were common across multiple QUERI projects and were mutually agreed on as having substantial impact on the success of implementation. While the lessons are consistent with commonly recognized ingredients of successful implementation efforts, the examples highlight the fact that, even with a thorough knowledge of the literature and thoughtful planning, unexpected circumstances arise during implementation efforts that require flexibility and adaptability. The findings stress the importance of utilizing formative evaluation techniques to identify barriers to successful implementation and strategies to address these barriers.