Most Significant Change

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Most Significant Change

See also | KS Toolkit MSC Page


[A general introduction to the topic – no more than 1-2 paragraphs]


most_signficant_change, method, evaluation

Detailed Description

From: by Rick Davies and Jess Dart

What is MSC, in a nutshell? The most significant change (MSC) technique is a form of participatory monitoring and evaluation. It is participatory because many project stakeholders are involved both in deciding the sorts of change to be recorded and in analysing the data. It is a form of monitoring because it occurs throughout the program cycle and provides information to help people manage the program. It contributes to evaluation because it provides data on impact and outcomes that can be used to help assess the performance of the program as a whole. Essentially, the process involves the collection of significant change (SC) stories emanating from the field level, and the systematic selection of the most significant of these stories by panels of designated stakeholders or staff. The designated staff and stakeholders are initially involved by ‘searching’ for project impact. Once changes have been captured, various people sit down together, read the stories aloud and have regular and often in-depth discussions about the value of these reported changes. When the technique is implemented successfully, whole teams of people begin to focus their attention on program impact.

KM4Dev Discussions

Jan 9 2007 - Lucie

Here is an interesting publication that was sent to our Pelican "sister" forum. This paper covers INTRAC and CABUNGO's experience in using the Most Significant Change (MSC) methodology to evaluate capacity building services in Malawi:

From the Executive Summary:

"MSC is a story-based, qualitative and participatory approach to monitoring and evaluation (M&E). INTRAC and CABUNGO worked collaboratively to adapt and implement the MSC approach to capture the complex and often intangible change resulting from capacity building, as well as to enhance CABUNGO’s learning and performance.The key findings of the evaluation are that:

• CABUNGO has achieved significant impacts on the sustainability and effectiveness of the NGOs and community-based organisations (CBOs) with which it has worked. • The most significant changes in organisational capacity involved shifts in attitudes, skills, knowledge and behaviour, but changes were also seen in relationships and power dynamics. • Of the 23 stories, 21 described shifts or improvements to the relationships within the organisation, and of these, 12 also described improved external relationships with the wider community and donors. • Achieving the impacts described depends on preserving the time, resources and expertise that quality capacity building interventions require. • Capacity building providers like CABUNGO face specific challenges in maintaining both the quality of their practice and their long-term financial sustainability."

Best, Lucie

Examples in Application Using MSC at IBM Australia by Shawn Callahan, October 29th, 2006. Hacia más cambios significativos con el método de CMS -Desarrollo e implementación del método del Cambio Más Significativo en los Programas Temáticos de Ibis en Guatemala: experiencias de la fase inicial y guía de implementación. Por Silke Mason Westphal, con aportes de Gladys Velásquez y Karsten Kirkegaard (2005).

Related FAQs

[Insert links to related FAQs]

Further Information The ‘Most Significant Change’ (MSC) Technique: A Guide to Its Use" by Rick Davies and Jess Dart (2005). 104 pages. PDF format - 1.236 KB [smaller .zip file version here - 889 KB] .

Now in Spanish: There is now a Spanish translation of the 2005 MSC Guide. It has been has been translated in two parts (pages 1-71, and 71-104), by Eva Camacho <> LWR funded the first half of the translation and Rick Davies covered the second part. Copies of the first part are available from Heather Dolphin < >. LWR are asking for a payment from organisations requesting a copy, until they recover a % of their initial cost. The second half is available from Rick Davies. In his case he is asking recipients for comments on the translation so we can make sure it is good quality. Spanish version of the MSC guide. Translation done by Lutheran World Relief.

Original Author and Subsequent Contributors of this FAQ

The author of this wiki is Nancy White. Brenda Bucheli continues updating it.

Dates of First Creation and Further Revisions

January 2007

FAQ KM4Dev Source Materials

[Raw text of email discussions on which the FAQ is based]