Most Significant Change

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1 Click4it Wiki - Tlkit Mst Significant Change Step by Step Step 1: Starting and raising interest A. It may help t use ne f the fllwing metaphrs t explain the MSC: Newspaper: Newspapers are structured int different subject areas in the same way that MSC uses dmains. Schl f fish: MSC helps the individual fish t cmmunicate with each ther and t swim in the same directin, twards what is gd and away frm what is nt Hliday memries: MSC helps teams t fcus n memrable events and t use these events t help realign effrts twards achieving mre f the wnderful things and less f the terrible nes. Restaurant menu: MSC presents a series f glimpses f what a prgram is achieving. The stakehlders can then select frm these glimpses in much the same way as they wuld select fd frm a restaurant menu. B. Start small. It is a risky exercise t implement a huge and cmplicated MSC system withut first pilting it n a small scale. C. Identify key peple (champins) wh are excited by MSC. These champins can: Excite and mtivate peple Answer questins abut the technique Facilitate selectin f SC stries Encurage peple t cllect SC stries Ensure that feedback ccurs Ensure that the stries are cllected and rganized and sent t review meetings Develp prtcls t ensure cnfidentiality iality where necessary

2 Step 2: Defining the dmains f change Using dmains f change helps rganizatins t grup a large number f SC stries int mre manageable lts, which can each be analyzed in turn. The any ther type f change dmain is a useful pen categry that allws participants t reprt significant changes that dn t fit int the named dmains. Between three and five dmains is a manageable number. The limiting factr is hw much time participants are willing t spend in discussing each dmain. A dmain can be identified befre SC stries are selected r afterwards by srting SC stries int meaningful grups. This depends n the extent t which the rganizatin wants t be pen t new experiences rather than cntinuing t be guided by past experiences. Step 3: Defining the reprting perid The frequency f cllectin f SC stries has varied frm frtnightly t yearly. Each rganizatin has t make its wn decisin abut the mst apprpriate reprting perid, balancing the csts and benefits invlved, and taking int accunt the reprting gaps that any existing mnitring and evaluatin systems may be ignring. Experiences suggest that rganizatins tend t start MSC with mre regular reprting and decrease the frequency as the prcess cntinues. Step 4: Cllecting SC stries A. Hw t capture SC stries: Fieldwrkers write dwn unslicited stries that they have heard Interviews and nte-taking Grup discussin sessins Beneficiaries write a stry directly B. The infrmatin t be dcumented shuld include: Infrmatin abut wh cllected the stry and when the event has ccurred Descriptin f the stry what happened Significance (t the stryteller) f the events described in the stry, which is the key part f MSC

3 C. Hw lng shuld the stries be? Mst MSC stries are a page r less in length, with sme being up t tw pages. Shrter MSC stries are quicker and easier t read, but they shuld nt be s shrt that vital infrmatin is left ut. D. Ethics f cllecting stries When a stryteller tells a stry, the persn cllecting the stry needs t explain hw the stry is t be used and t check whether the stryteller is in agreement with its use. The stryteller shuld als be asked whether they wish their name t accmpany the stry. Even when cnsent has been given, it is gd practice t check with strytellers befre placing any stries in media such as newspapers. Step 5: Selecting the mst significant f the stries The MSC apprach uses a hierarchy f selectin prcess. Peple discuss SCs within their area and submit the mst significant f these t the level abve, which then selects the mst significant f all the SCs submitted by the lwer levels and passes this n t the next level. The diagram belw illustrates this prcess. Flw f stries and feedback in MSC

4 A. Planning the selectin prcess Hw many levels f selectin will there be abve the staff wh initially dcuments the SC stries? This usually depends n the number f layers f management that exist within an rganizatin. At each f these levels, hw many separate selectin prcesses will there be? This will depend n the number f separate ffices at each level (based n lcatin r specializatin). In each f these levels, hw many SC stries can be managed by the staff invlved? It is unrealistic t expect staff t meet and wrk n the selectin f SC stries fr mre than tw hurs at the mst. If there are fur dmains f change t review, this means 10 minutes fr each. Within each dmain, aim t read thrugh and discuss n mre than 10 SC stries. Wh shuld participate in each selectin prcess? This aspect is cvered in mre detail belw. Hw ften shuld the selectin ccur? Nrmally this chice wuld be dependent n the frequency with which SC are cllected. B. Hw t select the stries Fr each dmain the grup will select a stry that they believe represents the mst significant change f all. The selectin prcess invariably begins with reading sme r all f the stries ut lud r individually. The key ingredients t stry selectin are: Everybdy reads the stries The grup hlds an in-depth cnversatin abut which stries shuld be chsen The grup decides which stries are felt t be mst significant The reasns fr the grup s chice(s) are dcumented C. Criteria fr selecting SCs The grup must decide whether the criteria fr selecting stries will be identified befre r after reading stries. If the MSC is being used t help rganizatinal learning, the selectin criteria shuld emerge thrugh discussin f the reprted changes and nt be decided in advance. There are several ways f reaching a decisin abut which stries t select: Majrity rules Read the stries, make sure everyne understands them, and then vte by shw f hands. The main risk is that a chice will be made withut any substantial discussin.

5 Interactive vting After the first vte, peple discuss why they vted as they did. This is fllwed by a secnd and then a third vte, ideally with sme mvement twards cnsensus. Scring Instead f vting, participants can rate the value f a SC stry. The ratings fr each f the stries are then aggregated and the stry with the highest rating is selected as the mst significant. The dwnside is the limited pprtunity fr dialgue, althugh explanatins fr rating can be given at the same time as the ratings. Pre-scring and grup vte The methd is suitable fr grups wh are shrt f meeting time. Prir t the meeting, participants are asked t read SC stries and rate their significance. These ratings are summarized in a table and presented t the participants when they meet face-t-face. Participants discuss the scre and cast their vte. The disadvantage is that all stries must be sent t participants sme time befre the meeting. Secret ballt Cast vtes annymusly. Each persn writes their chice f SC stry n a slip f paper, and then the ttal vtes are presented. This shuld be fllwed by an pen discussin f the reasns fr the chices. This prcess can be surprisingly useful, especially if there are pwer inequalities in the grup, r if peple are initially reluctant t cast their vtes publicly. It is imprtant t remember that in the MSC transparency is an imprtant way f making subjectivity accuntable. Therefre, it is very imprtant t add the secnd step f capturing and discussing the reasns fr chices. The dcumentatin attached t the mst significant stry shuld recrd: The reasns fr selecting an SC stry as the mst significant The prcess used t select the stry Stries that are filtered ut shuld nt be thrwn away. They shuld be kept n file s that they are accessible t thers within the rganizatin using the MSC, fr as lng as they cntinue t use it, and arguably even fr a while after that. This is t enable sme systematic cntent analysis f the full set f dcumented SC stries. Step 6: Feeding back the results f the selectin prcess The results f a selectin prcess must be fed back t thse wh prvided the SC stries. At the very least, this feedback shuld include the fllwing pints:

6 Explain which SC was selected as the mst significant and why. Prvide infrmatin n hw the selectin prcess was rganized. In sme cases participants prvide mre cmprehensive feedback in the frm f tables shwing wh gave which rating t what SC stry. Why feedback is useful? Feedback abut why a selectin was made can expand r challenge participants views f what is significant. Feedback abut the selectin prcess can help participants t assess the quality f the cllective judgments that were made. Infrmatin abut which SC stries were selected can help participants search fr SCs in the next reprting perid. Prviding feedback can ptentially cmplete a cmmunicatin lp between different levels f participants in an rganizatin. Prviding feedback t the cmmunity brings benefits as well as risks. Benefits: Risks: Peple can be mtivated by reading success stries. Participants can gain ideas abut hw they may reach their gals. It can lift the mrale f staff and participants. It can make the prcess mre transparent. Giving feedback t the cmmunity abut which changes the prgram team des r des nt value might be interpreted as the prgram trying t tell individuals and cmmunities hw they shuld develp. Step 7: Verificatin f stries Especially in larger rganizatins the reprted changes may nt reflect what has actually happened, but instead: be deliberated fictinal accunts, designed t the same time r gain describe real events that have been misunderstd exaggerate the significance f events

7 What aspects f the MSC stries shuld be verified? Descriptin aspect It is useful t cnsider whether any infrmatin is missing and t ask hw accurate the facts are. Is there enugh infrmatin t enable an independent third party t find ut what happened, when and where, and wh was invlved? Interpretatin aspect It is useful t ask whether the interpretatins given t the events are reasnable, and if what the reprter did after dcumenting the stry is cnsistent with the cntents f the stry. Step 8: Quantificatin Within the MSC, there are three methds t cllect and analyze quantitative infrmatin: The first is within individual stries. It is pssible, as with any news stry, t indicate hw many peple were invlved, hw many activities tk place and t quantify effects f different kinds. The secnd methd can be used after the selectin f the mst significant f all stries, pssibly in assciatin with the feedback stage. Fr example, if the mst significant f all stries referred t a wman buying land in her wn name, all participants culd then be asked fr infrmatin abut all ther instances f this kind f change that they are aware f. This ne-ff inquiry des nt need t be repeated during subsequent reprting perids. The third means f quantificatin is pssible during Step 9- Secndary analysis and meta-mnitring. It invlves examining the full set f cllected SC stries, including thse nt selected at higher levels within the rganizatin, and cunting the number f times a specific type f change is nted. Step 9: Secndary analysis and meta-mnitring Secndary analysis invlves the examinatin, classificatin and analysis f the cntent (r themes) acrss a set f SC stries, whereas meta-mnitring will fcus mre n the attributes f the stries. Meta-mnitring can be dne cntinually r peridically. Secndary analysis is a mre in-depth lk at the cntents f all the stries; it tends t be dne less frequently, such as nce a year. In preparatin fr bth meta-mnitring and secndary analysis, it is useful t develp a supprting spreadsheet cntaining data abut each f the SC stries, ne per rw.

8 Meta-mnitring: It des nt require expert knwledge. There are fur main types f measures that can be mnitred: The ttal number f SC stries written in each reprting perid and hw this change ver time. Wh is writing stries and wh is nt, and hw the membership f these grups changes ver time. Whse stries are being selected and whse are nt. What has happened t thse SC stries? Wh is ging t use this analysis? Secndary analysis: It is a deeper analysis generally dne in a nn-participatry way by a research r a mnitring and evaluatin specialist. Step 10: Revising the system Almst all rganizatins that use the MSC change the implementatin in sme way. Many f changes made by rganizatins using the MSC arise frm day-t-day reflectin abut practice. The mst cmmn changes are: Changes in the names f the dmains f change being used: fr example, adding dmains that capture negative changes, r lessn learned Changes in the frequency f reprting Changes in the types f participants Changes in the structure f meetings called t select the mst significant stries Meta-evaluatins f the use f the MSC invlve extra csts. These are mst justifiable where the MSC has been implemented n a pilt basis with the aim f extending its use n a much wider scale if it prves t be successful. Building capacity fr effective MSC applicatin Regarding t the resurces an rganizatin may need t implement the MSC technique, three strategies are cnsidered imprtant: A. Building the capacity f the champins The mst imprtant attributes fr champins are enthusiasm and interest in the MSC technique. Gd facilitatin skills are als useful. Champins can develp a sund understanding f the MSC in varius ways:

9 Reading sme f the existing dcuments n MSC and experimenting with MSC n a small scale Having a cnsultant visit the prgram ffice and wrk with the champins t intrduce the MSC t the rganizatin, as well as helping the champins t build their knwledge-base Ging n temprary assignments t ther rganizatins that are mre experienced in using the MSC If ne persn assumes the leadership fr the MSC in an rganizatin, it is strngly recmmended t build the MSC capacity f a secnd r third persn as well. S that when a champin mves t anther jb, the implementatin f the MSC in that place will nt fall dwn. B. Building the capacity f the staff There are tw main ptins available fr building the capacity f prgram teams in the MSC: Thrugh training Here are sme tips f training peple in MSC: Use plenty f hands-n exercises, such as rle-playing exercise Ask participants t dcument their wn stries in the training sessin. An effective training technique is t put participants in pairs and encurage them t interview each ther t elicit their MSC stries. Chse a tpic that everyne will relate t. Cmpare MSC with ther techniques such as case studies and cnventinal mnitring systems t help participants understand the differences. Explain hw MSC fits int the prject r rganizatin mnitring and evaluatin framewrk. Offer plenty f pprtunity fr questins and discussin. Peple ften need time t absrb the MSC technique. Run the training in cnjunctin with a facilitatr wh can fcus n hw the participants are feeling. Once the initial training has been cnducted, it helps t have a refresher sessin after the first stries have been cllected and selected. Thrugh mentring and practice It helps t have smene with a very gd understanding f the MSC wh can answer questins, address any cnfusin and design systems t minimize frustratin.

10 C. Cnsideratin f csts and time The MSC is time-cnsuming. Once MSC is ging smthly, it shuld becme quicker and mre streamlined. Organizatins ften chse t lengthen the reprting perid after a year r s, which als reduces the amunt f time the prcess cnsumes. References: Davies Rick, and Dart Jess, The Mst Significant Change (MSC) Technique: A Guide t Its Use, Versin 1.00, April 2005 (Available at: and accessed n 26 January 2010)

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