Connecting Video stories to Most Significant Change (MSC)

Most Significant Change is an excellent evaluation tool for measuring behavioral change with beneficiaries during a project period. MSC has a step based approach where personal stories from key stakeholders are collected, analyzed and verified. One of the key steps is the phase of defining the 'Domain of Change' and collecting the stories. This is the phase where the MSC-question is asked for a specific change in a domain.
For example:
(1) Looking back over the last 2 years, (2) what do you think was, (3) the most significant (4) change (5) in the development of your business (6) in your community?
Generally, three to five domains are a manageable number for conducting a MSC-evaluation. The stories are collected, analyzed, and verified from and with a selected group of beneficiairies. An important part is the process of drawing conclusions, lessons and recommendations. Involvement of the right stakeholders determines the quality of the outcome of the evaluation. Since recent years, video is increasingly used as a means of collecting MSC stories.

Based on a number of case studies, the Community of Practise Visuals4Development exchanged their experiences about three case studies;
1. Participatory Video and MSC with youth – Insight Share;
2. MSC as evaluation tool in an evaluation of a value chain project;
3. Visualizing story telling.
Based on discussions in the CoP Visuals4Development, lessons learned were shared on how to connect video stories to Most Significant Change (MSC)

1.       Participatory video and Most Significant Change
Insight Share conducted a webinar, where beneficiaries shared and collected most significant stories for lobby and advocacy purposes. Watch the webinar at:  Webinar Recording Insight Share – September 2012

International Advocacy Evaluation Community of Practice's Webinar on September 26, 2012 from iScale on Vimeo.

Lessons learned
  • Participatory video is a powerful tool to collect input from the beneficiaries for lobby & advocacy purposes:
  • Participatory video is an effective tool in enabling building bridges between  stakeholders;
  • Video is a useful tool in capturing MSC stories.  Read procedures for collecting MSC stories through video. However, the process requires a lot of technical support. (Cameras, laptops, video editing software, know how in video editing). And in most cases it requires more financial input. There are often other alternatives, that require less technical backup. So participatory video, when applied, needs to have a significant added value in the evaluation process;
  • An important condition needed is that the target group is open minded to be filmed on video. Not everywhere (especially in unsafe environments or political sensitive conditions), people feel free to express their views on video;
  • So video is not a very effective tool in voicing criticism. Appreciative inquiry questions are more relevant for the process of evaluation. Example of relevant questions are:  What went well? What would you do differently the next time?
  • The process of Participatory Video and collecting MSC stories needs to be embedded with clear goals within the context of an evaluation. The PV process should not be the goal, but it has to fit in a broader process within the evaluation.

2.       MSC as evaluation tool in an evaluation of a value chain project
In the evaluation of a value chain project, video evaluations were done with the beneficiaries in the project. Interviews were held with farmers, asking them Most Significant Change questions. What had changed for them during the project period in the domain of agriculture and marketing?  The stories were captured and they were shared during group discussions. During small group discussions, the best stories were selected and showed during the plenary discussions.

Lessons learned
  • Most significant video stories make a significant difference in having group discussions during the process of an external evaluation. It brings depth and broader understanding in the discussions. The visuality of things makes the discussions more intense.  They are an important reference for discussion.
  • Keep the video making simple. Just do the videoshots in one shot, so that editing is not needed. The Videos can immediately be used.  A digital camera, a laptop (without editing software) and a beamer are already sufficient. You even can show the videos in a place, without electricity. It saves time and keeps the process simple.
  • Make sure that the evaluation team and the project partners and beneficiaries involved understand and support the utilization of video in the process.
  • Make sure you have the permission from the beneficiaries and make clear on how the video will be applied. If needed ensure that confidentiality is secured.
  • Make sure you have clearly defined the Most Significant Change question for the video interviews and keep consistancy during the video making process
3.       Visualizing storytelling
One of the practisioners of the CoP worked for two weeks with in France. This organization is promoting participatory video and helps to reinforce social structures in France in applying participatory video in their work. During his stay in France he produced with the local staff of nine productions, where business people are sharing their life stories about their profession.  Read the article:  Storytelling as a tool for building bridges

Lessons learned
  • Storytelling can best be applied for methods such as Most Significant Change, Outcome Harvesting and collecting Anecdotical Evidence
  • Having more different people talking and voicing in a video gives more depth and keeps the viewer longer attracted in watching a video, if it comes to conducting an evaluation;
  • If you apply storytelling by video as a tool, it should be embedded in the context of an evaluation process. So the stories should support a discussion process, that comes when the videos are shared and shown.
  • Stories or anecdotes give more depth and taste to a videostory.

Broad consensus and transparancy as conditions for application of video in the evaluation process
Video has a big potential to be applied for collecting Most Significant Change (MSC) stories.  Depending on the political context, the goals of the evaluation, the evaluation process and the dissemination strategy, the evaluation team and the beneficiaries is advised to have a broad based consensus if video provides the additional value needed. Transparency and confidentiality and clear communication and understanding on how the video is applied in the process are essential conditions for making video and Most Significant Change a successful combination in an evaluation. 


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