Some attempts at implementing Most Significant Change (MSC) miss important aspects of the process. Here are some gotchas:
- Focusing too much on the production of polished stories. The stories you collect need to contain some key points: the context of the teller, their connection to the project, what happened to them and why that was important. However the more onerous you make story collection, the fewer relevant stories you will collection. Video and multi-media are nice but not necessary. You are not making a TV commercial.
- Collecting stories and then not selecting from them. Evaluating experiences can be quite confronting for stakeholders. It is tempting to say that all stories are equally valuable. And in one sense this is true. You should certainly thank all your story contributors. Nevertheless, the discussion around the relative importance of different outcomes is crucial to the process. The danger is that different stakeholders are working with varying assumptions that are never surfaced and never acknowledged.
- Feedback to participants does not occur. The MSC process can be presented as a loop and that loop needs to be closed. One way of showing to participants that you value their stories is by showing that you have read them, considered them and provided a response. This can be a participatory process as well.
It should be noted that MSC works best when monitoring and evaluating projects that are complex, produce diverse outcomes and are participatory in ethos.
The best single introduction to MSC is the online MSC Guide.