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Evaluating systems change and place-based approaches – Online Course – November, 2019

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  • Jen
  • Zazie
  • Ellise
  • Anna
  • Jess
Lesson 8, Topic 97
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Combining MSC with other approaches Copy

MSC is a good tool to combine with more traditional methods of monitoring and evaluation. MSC complements other methods in two key ways:

  1. MSC complements more quantitative indicators that describe the spread of change, such as indicators of the number of people who benefited from the program, or the number who have changed practices. In contrast, MSC provides some insight into how and why people made changes, or gained benefit. It adds context and voice to these numbers. MSC can also be combined with a survey to quantify the changes reported in stories across a larger sample (remember that stories themselves are not necessarily representative of changes).
  2. MSC complements a more ‘results-based management’ approach that looks to see whether expected outcomes (or quantitative targets) have been achieved. In contrast, MSC can search for and capture emergent or unexpected outcomes. These can then become dynamic indicators which could then be tested as part of a one off survey to see how common they are or built into future data collection.

The following graphic shows the relationship between expected results, MSC and annual reflection. During an annual reflection, the team can examine whether there is alignment between the expected results expressed in the program theory and what MSC is revealing. It asks: ‘What impacts is our work having and how are these impacts valued?’ and ‘Is it what we expected?’ and, ‘If not, what are we going to do’.  The annual reflection can be used to revise the program theory (and expected outcomes) as part of the annual planning process. 



Combined approaches

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Dr Jess Dart

CEO & Founder

Inventor of practical methodologies and highly demanded facilitator, Jess navigates complexity with comfort and helps her clients to become clear about their desired outcomes and how to get there.

Recipient of the 2018 AES Award for outstanding contribution to evaluation, Jess has over 25 years experience in evaluating and designing social change initiatives and strategies in Australia and overseas.

In October 2005, Jess founded Clear Horizon Consulting and is now CEO. She is also a board member of the Australasian Evaluation society.

Jess is passionate about developing and designing real world evaluation and strategy for social justice and sustainability. She particularly works with systems change interventions, large scale strategy and social innovation. After completing her PhD she co-authored the Most Significant Change (MSC) guide alongside Dr Rick Davies, which is now translated into 12 different languages.

MSC is well suited to evaluation in the complex emergent context. The latest innovation by Jess, Collaborative Outcomes Reporting (COR), is a collaborative form of impact evaluation.

Jess is also an active mum and has two teenage boys. In a quiet moment, she loves reading far-future science fiction and enjoys long distance running.

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