Capturing Social Outcomes: The Most Significant Change Technique

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Stories are a powerful way to capture social outcomes – what changes have we made in our policy or strategy and how important are they for people?  Everyone can tell and understand stories of change. The Most Significant Change (MSC) technique is a powerful tool for capturing rich data to demonstrate changes occurring from your program interventions.  MSC is an essential tool in your policy and strategy toolkit as it:

  • facilitates discussions on strategic direction, appropriateness of planned  outcomes
  • fosters continuous improvement, change management and policy making
  • clarifies stakeholder interests and differences in perspectives
  • complements quantitative data collection – putting life into numbers and indicators.

MSC focuses both staff and stakeholders on impact rather than counting numbers and reporting on outputs/inputs. MSC also supports data capture of unexpected outcomes and is an excellent tool for fostering organisational learning and program improvement. It is well suited to capture impact in complex social change situations.

Course Content

MSC is based on collecting stories of changes in peoples' lives as a result of a project intervention and allows the participants and partners to explain what made the difference from their perspective. MSC is easily transferable to other cultural situations, does not rely on high level specialist skills, and is particularly suited to social change projects – small or large.

Course Outcomes

By the end of this course attendees should be able to:

  • Understand how MSC works
  • Understand how MSC fits within broader Monitoring and Evaluation efforts
  • Understand the benefits and weaknesses of MSC and when and where to use it
  • Be able to undertake the essential steps of MSC (story collection, selection and feedback).

Benefits to your organisation

  • Gain rich qualitative data on outcomes to complement quantitative data - particularly useful for programs with a social change focus
  • Supports organisational culture change to focus on achievement of outcomes (compared to output reporting) and continuous improvement
  • Provides powerful good news stories for reporting /PR.

Benefits to you

  • Gain skills in narrative based interview techniques used to capture outcomes, guide strategy and policy
  • Gain an innovative and flexible approach in capturing qualitative data and reporting on outcomes
  • Broadens scope of tools for reporting on outcomes, and adds value to your existing output based reporting.