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

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Lesson 8, Topic 47
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Interviewing and a story collection guide Copy

Clear Horizon September 23, 2019

You may not have conducted an interview before, so we’d like to share our tips for making your first interview a success and creating a process that you can use over and over again to capture stories that enable you to monitor and evaluate your projects.

Take time to build a connection before beginning the conversation

Introduce yourself. Make a little informal time at the start to hear about who the person is. Question one in the Landcare sample story collection guide (select MSC User Guide pp. 92-96) is aimed at helping this happen. Let them know a little about who you are, or simply tell them about the interview process.

Start broad, then focus

Ask about all the different changes (big, small, positive or negative) that have occurred before you ask them to choose the one that they feel is most significant and tell a story about it. Do this as a list.

Probe, don’t lead!

Some people may need a little help to get their story out. It is fine to use encouraging probes such as – “can you give me some more details about how this happened” or “can you give me an example of that”, or “who did it involve?” or “how did it all begin?” Often we use the five friends (who, where, what, why, and how). But try not to lead the informant. If you do have some very specific questions that you want to ask them then wait until the MSC questions are complete. Eliciting an MSC story is very different than conducting a questionnaire.


Remember when you are interviewing, it’s your role to suspend your opinion and listen to what the interviewee has to say.

You can also use a story collection guide as part of the process. Please download an example of an MSC Story Collection Guide below.


Hints for interviewing

MSC Story Collection Guide – Word

MSC Story Collection Guide – PDF

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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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