Knowledge Bank

Most Significant Change

November 30, -0001, Evaluation Observatory

MSC was developed by Rick Davies, in the mid-1990s to meet the challenges associated with monitoring and evaluating a complex participatory rural development program in Bangladesh, with diverse implementation pathways and outcomes (Serrat, 2009). Since then, MSC has acquired wide acclaim in capturing impact for development interventions which struggle with conventional monitoring and evaluation approaches.

Also known as Monitoring without Indicators, ‘The Story Approach’, “Impact Monitoring’, The Most Significant Change Technique (MSC) is a rich participatory program monitoring and evaluation technique that focuses on capturing impact by asking simple questions to program beneficiaries and field staff, such as: “During the last month, in your opinion, what was the most significant change that took place for participants in the program?”

Qualitative in nature, it involves collecting significant change stories from the field level, of which the most impactful ones are then systematically filtered and chosen through a panel of designated stakeholders who discuss them to assess the program impact. (Davies & Dart, n.d.).

Among the many advantages of MSC are, its adaptability in cross-cultural contexts, requiring no specialized professional skills, and that it is highly successful in identifying the important values in an organization, and unexpected outcomes delivered by a program.

List of recommended resources:

For a broad overview

  • Developed by the Asian Development Bank, this four page brief on gives a systematic overview of the rationale, definition, benefits, enablers and implementation steps in MSC.

For in depth understanding

Case Study

  • This interview from NCERT, gives an overview of Capturing the Most Significant Change in Schools.

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