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Most Significant Change (MSC) Methodology

The use of the MSC methodology is a quick, simple and effective way to gather community stories and it has
additional benefits:
 Helping communities to have the time and space to reflect on World Vision’s impact and to build trust with
the ADP – this can generate greater impact in the future
 Helping ADPs gather feedback/stories and recognise that their work is generating change – this can be very
motivational
 Helping NOs/SOs recognise the impact their programmes are generating in the field – this can assist with
advocacy and influence
 Helping SOs by creating a bank of inspiring stories which can be used in promotional marketing material –
this can boost sponsor numbers
With this in mind, WVUK have prepared the following basic guidelines, to encourage the use of the
methodology at least once a year for the generation of the case study for the Annual Report. We would,
however, recommend that MSC is used regularly throughout the year.

Guidelines
STEP 1 – Select a target group to visit and inform them in advance of the meeting
A target group can either be understood as a whole community or a segment of a community, which can be
defined by geographical area, age, gender or any other variable. The community can be randomly selected or
purposefully chosen in order to increase the chance of hearing a story of the type required (for example, visiting
a community who have recently received a micro-irrigation system is likely to produce stories around its impact)

STEP 2 – Visit the target group at the agreed time

STEP 3 – Divide the target group into smaller groups
While there are no rules, to allow easy communication within small groups, it is recommended that they are
limited to around 6 to 8 people. These smaller groups can be divided up at random, or they can be selected
according to age, gender, status or any other variable.

STEP 4 – Ask each small group a single question; “What has been the most significant change for
you because of World Vision’s work”
It is important not to ask a leading question and influence the answers given by the small group members, but it
is necessary to ensure that the question is limited to just the work that World Vision has be able to do, since
otherwise there can be a tendency to collect information about the changes brought about by local government
or other agencies. The open question does allow the community members to think of both positive and negative
changes that have come about through World Vision’s work. Some community members may be able to think of
many changes, but it is important to encourage them to select just one change – the most significant one.

STEP 5 – Encourage the small group members to share their stories
Each member of each small group should now have the opportunity to share with the others in the group what
they consider to be the most significant change. The group themselves can help ensure that each person only
speaks of one change. This process continues until each small group member has had the opportunity to speak
and share their perspective.

STEP 6 – Small group members select a Most Significant Change for their small group.
Once all the stories have been told, each small group is invited to discuss which of the stories they have shared
should be considered as the Most Significant Change for them as a group. Encourage the small groups to reach a
joint decision on the winning story, using voting if necessary.

We look forward to hearing your stories! . Each of these stories will be vital for advocacy and marketing. At this point. particularly those which record the views of the children themselves. the ADP should record the stories that are shared. as such. but provides rich content for programmatic reflection. they do provide rich content that can help guide programmatic decisions and. Conclusion The MSC methodology has many benefits for communities. The use of video cameras or recording equipment is preferable since it guarantees that the authentic voice of the community is captured. The experience of using the MSC methodology can also be reflected upon in order to ensure that it is used the most effectively in any given context and culture. should be reflected upon. ADPs.STEP 7 – Winning stories are shared with the whole target group and recorded The small groups come back together. the community’s Most Significant Change story can now be transcribed. If recording equipment is not available or is not used. This is the community’s Most Significant Change. STEP 12 – ADP reflection on the MSC experience The use of MSC methodology exposes ADP staff to community stories about their work. STEP 11 . not the average change experienced by community members). without interpreting it or writing it in the language of development work. but it can affect the confidence of the person speaking. it may be necessary to use a microphone and speaker to facilitate this). the target group should be asked to vote on the story that best reflects their collective experience. since they also represent popular and significant changes that World Vision has worked towards. STEP 9 – Thank the community for their participation and return to ADP Office STEP 10 –Transcribe the Most Significant Change story and winning stories Using the recordings or notes. WVUK would also welcome receiving any comments on these guidelines.Transcriptions and recordings distributed The transcriptions and any associated recordings/videos should then be sent to the NO and SO for their use and feedback. it is important that the authentic voice of the community is faithfully captured. As before. advocacy and marketing. This can either be done using a device that records audio or notes taken during the storytelling. without alteration or interpretation. While there is a single Most Significant Change story. the winning stories selected by each small group are also worth treating in the same manner. NOs and SOs. These members now share their stories with the entire target group (please bear in mind that. depending on the size of the target group. Each small group has by now selected one member’s story as their Most Significant Change. Whilst the stories cannot be considered representative of programming impact (they focus on the most significant change. STEP 8 – Ask the target group to select the Most Significant Change Having listened to all the winning stories from each small group. those members of World Vision staff taking notes on the stories should endeavour as best they can to capture the story as it is told. It is not time consuming and is simple to perform and manage.

during which participants can write a word or draw their most significant change.  The community is too big – when community size means that there are so many small groups that Step 7 would take too long a time. . ensure that small groups are divided by gender and that target group leaders are placed into their own small group(s). Writing and/or drawing may also be used in Step 4. it is possible to allocate small groups into a certain cluster of small groups. This can also help add depth and richness to the story. a middle (what did World Vision do?) and an end (how is the situation now?). ensure that the leader speaks last. Once Step 6 has been completed in small groups. while intangible benefits such as improvements in the child protection are less readily recognised.  Many changes mentioned – strong facilitation is required to ensure that some individuals do not end up speaking of all the changes they have experienced in their lives. In mixed groups.  Individuals tend to follow the same example given by the first person to speak – in some cultures. ensure that small groups are divided by age so as to guarantee that children are able to share their perspectives.  The changes shared are not in a story format – it is helpful for advocacy and marketing purposes for stories to have a beginning (how was the situation before?). The following are a list of suggestions and adaptations which may help:  The voice of children is not sufficiently heard – in Step 3. During step 4. they should show their word/drawing to indicate that they are not simply repeating what has already been shared. small groups can be asked to help ensure that no individual shares more than one change. Many community members will naturally tell stories in this format. Whilst the Most Significant Change methodology requires the opening question to be open so that individuals and communities are at liberty to share what has been the most significant impact for them. but some coaching in storytelling could be given between Step 6 and Step 7 to encourage this progression.  Men / Leadership dominates – in Step 3. it may be necessary to add a brief period of reflection can be added after Step 4. it is possible to still use the same steps outlined above.  The stories do not focus on the intangible changes – Changes identified by the community often focus on physical and visible changes. the winning stories can then be heard and voted on by all members of the cluster. The Most Significant Change stories from each cluster are then taken forward into Step 7.Troubleshooting / Hints Cultures and contexts vary and the use of MSC methodology may need to be adapted slightly to suit different target groups. but change the starting question in Step 4 to limit the focus to the intangible benefits brought about by World Vision’s work. When sharing this in Step 5.