Sunday, November 25, 2007

A network approach to the selection of "Most Significant Change" stories

I spent yesterday in a day-long meeting with the staff of an NGO grant-making body, in Ghana. A year ago I had run a two day training workshop for their grantees on the use of the "Most Significant Change" (MSC) method of impact monitoring, a method of monitoring-without-indicators. Since then they had started to collect "Most Significant Change" stories, and they had asked for some feedback on those stories.

In yesterday's meeting, and in my meetings with other organisations in the past, concerns have been expressed about the appropriateness of a hierarchical selection process of MSC stories, when the grantees, and their local partners were all very autonomous organisations, and the last thing the grant making body wanted to do was to create, or reinforce, any view that they were all part of an organisational hierarchy, with the grant making body, and its back donors, at the top.

I explained an alternative way of structuring the selection process, that involved the parallel participation of different stakeholders groups, with a reiterated process of story selection, then feedback to the plenary meeting of all participants. After the meeting yesterday I thought it might be useful to document this alternative, and make it more widely available. So this is what is now available below, in the form of a graphic image of an Excel file. If you click on the image it will be enlarged. Or, click on the link below the image to download the actual Excel file

Your comments and suggestions are invited, please use the Comment facility on this blog.

If you have not heard about MSC before it would be worth looking at the MSC Guide first. Especially section 5 on selection.

Click on the image to make it bigger, or download the Excel file

Postscript: The Washington Post ( 31 Dec 07 online) has an interesting article about how being able to see other people's judgements affects one's own judgements. One of the authors of the study is a well know writer/researcher on networks (Duncan Watts). See also Valdis Krebs' paper "It's the [local] Conversations, Stupid: The link between social interaction and political choice"