I’ve been reading through a document on the most significant change technique, provided to me by one of its authors, Rick Davies. MSC is a way to monitor and evaluate the impact of social programs — complex activities for which business-like output measures are simply not a match. Briefly, Davies’ approach relies on significant-change stories as the basis for understanding the impact of the efforts to address difficult social issues. Stories may come from the intended beneficiaries of a social program effort, or from field workers involved in implementing the program, etc.
The net out: It’s stories that carry the essence of the change, not some metric that abstracts the situation or is based on the assumptions of “positive impact” devised by the program creators. It is worth the read. Davies approach is more than just a smart use of stories as a basis for evaluation — it is a structured learning process for all the stakeholders involved in the change.