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Why organisations find Most Significant Change useful

Posted by  Shawn Callahan —August 11, 2006
Filed in Communication

I was re-reading the Most Significant Change Guide developed by Rick Davies and Jess Dart today (their manual is an excellent resource available freely on the web here) and I noticed this list of why organisations have found the technique useful.

  • It is a good means of identifying unexpected changes.
  • It is a good way to clearly identify values that prevail in an organisation and to have a practical discussion about which of those values are most important.
  • It is a participatory form of monitoring that requires no special professional skills. Compared to other monitoring approaches, it is easy to communicate across cultures. There is no need to explain what an indicator is. Everyone can tell stories about events they think were important.
  • It encourages analysis as well as data collection because people have to explain why they believe one change is more important than another.
  • It can build staff capacity in analysing and conceptualising impact.
  • It can deliver a rich picture of what is happening, rather than an overly simplified picture where organisational, social and economic developments are reduced to a single number.
  • It can be used to monitor and evaluate bottom-up initiatives that do not have predefined outcomes against which to evaluate.

The last point is one of the main reasons we use MSC to monitor complexity based interventions because from the outset we can never know exactly how the intervention will unfold.

About  Shawn Callahan

Shawn, author of Putting Stories to Work, is one the world's leading business storytelling consultants. He helps executive teams find and tell the story of their strategy. When he is not working on strategy communication, Shawn is helping leaders find and tell business stories to engage, to influence and to inspire. Shawn works with Global 1000 companies including Shell, IBM, SAP, Bayer, Microsoft & Danone. Connect with Shawn on:

3 Responses to “Why organisations find Most Significant Change useful”

  1. Sue Huckson Says:

    Hi Shawn,
    I am pleased that you are discussing the ‘Most Significant Change’ technique, we have found it very useful to unpack change in the projects we have undertaken through the Emergency Care Community of Practice. The impact in terms data across systems in health often takes time, the MSC has allowed us to demonstrate critical shifts in culture that is a precursor to practice change.

  2. Shawn Callahan Says:

    Nice to hear about your success with MSC Sue. Do you use it with the other communities of practice your involved in? I would love to see a case study that we can link to 🙂

  3. Sue Huckson Says:

    Hi Shawn,
    The MSC was one of the techniques used in the evaluation we undertook and currently we are in the process of writing that up. When that’s available we will let you know.
    Sue

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