New website upgrades! What’s new

Resource: Most Significant Change

Sara explores Most Significant Change, a helpful tool for investigating your organisation’s impact on the lives of the people it supports.

By Sara Gingold

Updated 15 Apr 202428 Apr 2018

Since it's conception in the mid-1990s, the Most Significant Change (MSC) evaluation tool has become a celebrity of the international development world. As aid horror stories entered the public consciousness, the sector was looking for new ways to qualitatively measure the impact they were having on people's lives.

The Australian disability sector is currently undergoing a period of significant change.  It is thus more important than ever to examine how services we deliver are affecting the lives of people we work for. MSC is a particularly useful when there is diversity in both service implementation and outcomes. Its positive bias allows organisations to determine the conditions under which they produce the best results.

It begins by collecting stories of the most valued change in customer's lives since they began using the service. These stories then travel up the organisation's hierarchy, with each group filtering down the number of stories until they finally select just one. Conversations that emerge during the selection process are as (if not more) important than the chosen story itself. The process engrains learning and reflections into the organisation, while aligning the vision for the service's future.

MSC's founders have warned that it is not a stand-alone evaluation tool. It is designed to supplement other evaluation efforts, particularly ones that focus on quantitative data collection. The stories are also not for communication purposes, as this will negatively influence the selection process.

The Overseas Development Institute has created this brief toolkit, which includes step-by-step instructions for implementing MSC. If you are really keen to learn more, you can also download this guide developed by the founders.

Happy Evaluating!


Sara Gingold

Explore DSC

Subscribe to the newsletter you’ll actually want to read

Learn from the humans obsessed with Australia’s NDIS. 50,000 readers strong.

Explore DSC Learning