Storytelling for Change: The Most Significant Change technique
Sean Howard made me aware of an innovative storytelling tool geared toward change/needs assessments, called the Most Significant Change (MSC). This technique is a form of participatory monitoring and evaluation that can be applied across a number of social issues.
The process--invented by Rick Davies nearly 14 years ago to meet challenges associated with monitoring and evaluating a complex participatory rural development program in Bangladesh-- involves the collection of significant change stories from participants and staff at the field level, followed by systematic selection of the most significant of these stories by designated stakeholders or staff. Once changes have been captured, various people sit down together, read the stories aloud and have regular, in-depth discussions about the value of reported changes and emerging patterns of focus. When the technique is implemented successfully, teams of people focus their attention on program impact.
This is the basic process:
1. Start and raise interest
2. Define domains of change
3. Define reporting period
4. Collect SC stories
5. Select most significant stories
6. Feed back results of selection process
7. Verify of stories
9. Secondary analysis and meta-monitoring
10. Revise the system
I am particularly interested in the MSC technique because of its similarities to Appreciative Inquiry, a technique for change or growth strategy and organizational design that I like within in my own strategic planning practice. Also, Sean and I have been working together to create a program geared toward systemic change, using innovations in design thinking, visualization, user experience, organizational design and storytelling. We've been researching successful models of communication and evaluation- and the MSC technique is interesting in terms of systemic change. As Sean pointed out, the MSC technique has most often and successfully been applied vertically within organizations, but there are also valuable outcomes from that can arise from bringing external stakeholders into the process, such as enhanced donor engagement and partnership evaluations, which the user manual acknowledges in its section entitled "Innovation: Network Alternatives."
(Part of this comment is cross-posted from the ResistNetwork. Image taken from Rick Davies' blog.)