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Most Significant Change

Overview of Implementation Steps

1. Getting started: establishing champions and getting familiar with the approach

The plan orientates itself to the needs of the users. It relies on appropriate form, language, and information content levels.

2. Establishing “domains of change”

The plan incorporates various dissemination methods, such as written, graphical, electronic, and verbal media. The methods include research summary documents; press releases; media coverage; flyers, posters, and brochures; letters of thanks to study participants; newsletters to study participants; events and conferences; and seminars. Each method calls for its own format and means of dissemination and includes both proactive and reactive channels—that is, it includes information content that users have identified as important and information content that users may not know to request but are likely to need. The dissemination methods are 
more likely to succeed when their packaging and information content has been influenced by appropriate inputs from the users.

3. Defining the reporting period

The plan draws on existing resources, relationships, and networks to the maximum extent possible. It also builds the new resources, relationships, and networks needed by users.

4. Collecting stories of change 

The plan includes effective quality control mechanisms to ensure that the information content is accurate, relevant, and representative.

5. Reviewing the stories within the organisational hierarchy

To make explicit what individuals and wider groups value as significant change
To broaden understanding of what is seen as significant change in a project or program as a whole
To abstract and synthesise common elements of significant change
To provide a source of evaluation information to stakeholders

6. Providing stakeholders with regular feedback about the review process

To inform each subsequent round of story collection and selection
To effectively record and adjust the direction of attention and the criteria used to value events
To deepen organisational learning about the changes engendered by the project or program

7. Setting in place a process to verify the stories, if necessary

To check that stories have been reported accurately and honestly
To provide an opportunity to gather more detailed information about events seen as especially significant

8. Quantification 

To include quantitative information as well as qualitative information
To quantify the extent to which the most significant changes identified in one location have taken place in other locations within a specific period
To monitor the monitoring system itself

9. Conducting secondary analysis of the stories en masse

To identify main themes and differences among stories
To theorise about change
To encourage further publication via articles, conference papers, etc.

10. Revising the Most Significant Change process

To revise the design of the Most Significant Change process to take into account what has been learned as a direct result of using it and the findings, conclusions, and recommendations from that.

Davies, R. & Dart, J. (2005) The Most Significant Change (MSC) Technique, A Guide to its use, CARE International, UK. Retrieved from

Mosse, D., Farrington, J., & Rew, A. (1998) Development as Process: Concepts and Methods for Working with Complexity. London. Routledge/ODI, pages 68-83; and in Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal, Vol. 16. No. 3, September 1998, pages 243-250. (origin of MSC)

King, J. & Smith, J. (2010). Most Significant Change Stories. Sustainability Victoria.

Dart, J.J. (2003) A Self-Help Guide for Implementing the Most Significant Change Technique (MSC).

Participatory aggregation of qualitative information (PAQI)