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As healthcare systems progress toward initiatives that increase patient engagement, stake-holder hopes are that shared decision making (SDM) will become routine practice. Yet, there is limited empirical evidence to guide such SDM program implementations, particularly in obstetric practices. The first stage of any project implementation is the “initiation stage”, in which project leaders define a project’s purpose and stakeholders and structures are put in place to support the new initiative. Our study’s objective was to identify factors affecting the initiation stage of an SDM program implementation project for TOLAC, trial of labor after Cesarean. We conducted a multiple-case study of an SDM program implementation in three obstetric settings in Washington State. The research design and analysis were guided by implementation science frameworks and project management literature. Data sources included interviews with key informants from the State, SDM tool vendors, and three project sites, as well as implementation documents. The study results provide insight into how the identified project implementation factors provide an essential foundation for informing project planning, execution, and reflection/evaluation. In this study, the State’s decision aid certification program pressured the project sites to shape the project purpose and engage stakeholders that would meet immediate project requirements (specifically, state require-ments). The study reveals that external demands may not be in perfect alignment with the internal necessities required for an SDM program’s long-term viability and sustainability. Findings may be used by implementers and researchers to model and strategize the early stages of SDM program implementation projects, particularly in the obstetric setting.