I am excited to produce my first blog post for CCIB Solutions, my name is Michelle Dupuis and I am the third member of the management team.  I was raised all over Latin America and lived in the two poorest countries, Haiti and Bolivia.  First hand experience living in developing nations gives me the motivation and passion to be an international development professional.

In honor of Blog Action Day (#powerofwe) I wanted to discuss one of the most innovative and effective tools in monitoring and evaluation: Most Significant Change.

For those of you not familiar with the tool, it is generally used in the summative evaluation of a program or project, and the most interesting aspect of the tool is that is makes the evaluation process participatory, as well as creating an opportunity for capacity building.  As defined by the developers of the theory Dr. Rick Davies and Dr. Jessica Dart, the basic process is the following:

Essentially, the process involves the collection of significant change (SC) stories emanating from the field level, and the systematic selection of the most significant of these stories by panels of designated stakeholders or staff. The designated staff and stakeholders are initially involved by ‘searching’ for project impact. Once changes have been captured, various people sit down together, read the stories aloud and have regular and often in-depth discussions about the value of these reported changes. When the technique is implemented successfully, whole teams of people begin to focus their attention on program impact.— (MSC Technique, Davies and Dart, p. 8)

I recently attended a webinar hosted by Innovations for Scaling Impact that featured a project undertaken by InSight Share.  They were discussing a project that had dedicated seven months to combining participatory video with most significant change theory.  450 young women participated in both Uganda and Guatemala, 64 videos were made, and 5 screening events were held.  Representatives from both organizations spoke during the webinar, but most interestingly they also allowed two women from Uganda and Guatemala to share their experience directly with the group.  For more information on the webinar, please click here to access the powerpoint that was used during the discussion.

I thought this was an appropriate topic for today, because the hashtag Power of We is perfectly demonstrated in this participatory evaluation method.  It allows those of us in international development to learn from the communities we serve and to develop programs that are based on their needs, perceptions and their definition of change, rather than imposing our own structures.  Furthermore, it allows the flexibility for the unexpected to surface and potentially affect how we develop programming completely.  Lastly, an interesting point was discussed in the webinar – the identification of false testimonies – a challenge we all face in evaluation and which we try to avoid by triangulation.  In this case the false testimonies were easily identified because the beneficiaries themselves were doing the triangulation of information.

Do you have any experience with Most Significant Change?  If so, we would love to hear about it, or feel free to share your thoughts and comments in the comment section below.  Happy Blog Action day!