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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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When to use MSC Copy

Aliki September 23, 2019

MSC works better in some types of programs than others. Teams implementing a simple program with tangible outcomes (eg. vaccination) might find that traditional methods of quantitative monitoring are sufficient and take less time. But, in other cases, traditional quantitative monitoring and evaluation methods might not provide the right type of data to make sense of impact and foster learning.

Where MSC can help?

Projects that can gain considerable value from MSC include ones that are:

  • Complex and produce diverse and emergent outcomes
  • Focused on social change
  • Participatory in ethos
  • Designed with repeated contact between field staff and participants
  • Struggling with conventional monitoring systems
  • Highly customised services to a small number of beneficiaries (such as family counselling).

Costs & benefits

At times, the costs of implementing MSC may not justify the benefits. There may be other less time-consuming ways to:

  • Develop good news stories for public relations (PR)
  • Produce an evaluation report for accountability purposes.

Enabling success with MSC

It’s also important to think about whether MSC makes sense in your organisation or program context. Some key enablers for success with MSC include:

  • An organisational culture that encourages learning
  • Champions (eg. people who can promote the use of MSC) with good facilitation skills
  • A willingness to try something different and run several cycles of the approach
  • Infrastructure to enable regular feedback of the results to stakeholders
  • Commitment by senior managers.

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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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