Most Significant Changes

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Page about MSC standing for Most Significant Changes explains:

"Most Significant Changes monitoring is different from common monitoring practice in at least four respects: (a) The focus is on the unexpected, (b) Information about those events is documented using text rather than numbers, (c) Analysis of that information is through the use of explicit value judgements, (d) Aggregation of information and analysis takes place through a structured social process."

You can read Rick Davies (1996) paper about MSC here at

And you should also read Rick Davies and Jess Dart's (2005) "The Most Significant Changes (MSC) Technique: A Guide to its Use" now available at

For more information about other approaches to monitoring and evaluation go to Monitoring and Evaluation NEWS at


Overlap with Distributed Action Research

  • Emergent
  • Qualitative
  • Systematic


  • Emphasis on evaluation rather than improvement
  • Application in an online context?
  • Assumes an organisational and hierarchical context

Case: Researching the Blogosphere

  • What: A piece of distributed research using MSC on and about the blogosphere.
  • When: Begun September 27th, 2006
  • Where: Initially on the Zahmoo blog
  • How:

A blog post asking the question

Are you a blogger? Maybe you blog professionally. Maybe your blog supports your business 
in   some way. Maybe you blog inside an organisation. Maybe you have a personal blog.
Whichever it may be, we’d like to invite you to join in Zahmoo’s exploration of the Most
Significant Change across the blogosphere and share your story around what has been the
most significant change since you’ve been blogging. This is the first phase of our 
exploration.  We will be providing information regarding the next steps in due course.

In the meanwhile, we would like to invite you to use the comments section of this blogpost  
to provide your answers to the following two questions:

 * Describe a story that epitomises the most significant change that has resulted from 
   your blogging .
 * Why was this story significant for you?

In your comment, please be sure to provide your story and the reason why it’s significant
for you. 

September 27th, 2006 by Andrew Rixon

Responses on the blog

Mine is number 5 --Andy Roberts 11:58, 2 October 2006 (BST)

I'm interested to learn how it is intended to adapt the MSC methodology, which I understand as being something which has been developed for use within organisations with managemnet structures, to an amorphous unstructured body such as the blogosphere.

For example, who will be asked to look at the stories submitted and choose the most significant out of them? Or have I got the wrong end of the stick with all this.

Tools and methods

A webpage on the use of video to record Most Significant Change stories

"Participatory video lends itself well to project monitoring and evaluation. Chris Lunch, director of Insight, describes how communities are using video to capture and interpret stories of significant change."

Related methodologies

Positive Deviance:


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Other Resources

  • The ‘Most Significant Change’ (MSC) Technique: A Guide to Its Use

aimed at those who wish to use MSC to help monitor and evaluate their social change programs and projects. MSC is applicable in many different sectors, including agriculture, education and health, and especially in development programs. Free PDF file