Connecting communities? A review of World Vision’s use of MSC

A report for World Vision, by Rick Davies and Tracey Delaney, Cambridge and Melbourne, March 2011. Available as pdf

Background to this review

“This review was undertaken by two monitoring and evaluation consultants, both with prior experience in the use of the Most Significant Change (MSC) technique. The review was commissioned by World Vision UK, with funding support from World Vision Canada. The consultants have been asked to “focus on what has and has not worked relating to the implementation and piloting of MSC and why; establish if the MSC tools were helpful to communities that used them; will suggest ideas for consideration on how MSC could be implemented in an integrated way given WV’s structure, systems and sponsorship approach; and what the structural, systems and staffing implications of those suggestions might be”. The review was undertaken in February-March 2011 using a mix of field visits (WV India and Cambodia), online surveys, Skype interviews, and document reviews.

MSC is now being used, in one form or another, in many WV National Offices (NOs). Fifteen countries using MSC were identified through document searches, interviews and an online survey, and other users may exist that did not come to our attention. Three of these countries have participated in a planned and systematic introduction of MSC as part of WV’s Transformational Development Communications (TDC) project; namely Cambodia, India and the Philippines.  Almost all of this use has emerged in the last four years, which is a very brief period of time. The ways in which MSC has been used varies widely, some of which we would call MSC in name only. Most notably, where the MSC question is being used, but where there is no subsequent selection process of MSC stories. Across almost all the users of MSC that we made contact with there was a positive view of the value of the MSC process and the stories can produce. There is clearly a basis here for improving the way MSC is used within WV, and possibly widening the scale of its use. However, it is important to bear in mind that our views are based on a largely self-selected sample of respondents, from 18 of the 45 countries we sought to engage.”


Glossary. 4
1.      Executive Summary. 5

1.1 Background to this review.. 5

1.2 Overview of how MSC is being used in WV. 5

1.3 The findings: perceptions and outcomes of using MSC. 6

1.4 Recommendations emerging from this review.. 7

1.5 Concluding comment about the use of MSC within WV. 12

2.      Review purpose and methods. 13

2.1 World Vision expectations. 13

2.2 Review approach and methods. 13

2.3 The limitations of this review.. 14

3.      A quick summary of the use of MSC by World Vision.. 15

4.      How MSC has been used in World Vision.. 17

4.1 Objectives: Why MSC was being used. 17

4.2 Processes: How MSC was being used. 18

Management 18

Training. 19

Domains of change. 19

Story collection. 20

A review of some stories documented in WV reports. 22

Story selection. 24

Verification. 26

Feedback. 26

Quantification. 27

Secondary analysis. 27

Use of MSC stories. 28

Integration with other WV NO and SO functions. 29

4.3 Outcomes: Experiences and Impacts. 30

Evaluations of the use of MSC. 30

Experiences of MSC stories. 30

Who benefits. 31

Impacts on policies and practices. 31

Summary assessments of the strengths and weaknesses of using MSC. 32

5.      How MSC has been introduced and used in TDC countries. 36

5.1 Objectives: Why MSC was being used. 36

5.2 Process in TDC: a comparison across countries. 36

Management and coordination of MSC process. 36

Training and support 37

Use of domains. 39

Story collection. 39

Story Selection. 43

Feedback on MSC stories. 46

Use of MSC stories. 47

Role out of TDC pilot – extending the use of MSC to all ADPs. 49

Integration and/or adoption of MSC into other sections of the NO.. 50

5.3 The outcomes of using MSC in the TDC. 51

Experiences and reactions to MSC. 51

Who has benefited and how.. 52

5.4 Conclusions about the TDC pilot. 55



Launch of online database of research accountability tools

Announcement: 7 September: launch of online database of research accountability tools

The One World Trust, with support from the IDRC, has created an interactive, online database of tools to help organisations conducting policy relevant research become more accountable.

Processes of innovation and research are fundamental to improvements in quality of life and to creating a better society. But to realise these benefits, the quality of research alone is not enough. Organisations engaged in policy-relevant research and innovation must continually take into account and balance the needs of a diverse set of stakeholders: from the intended research users, to their clients and donors, to the research community and the research participants.  Responsiveness to all of these is crucial if they are to be legitimate and effective. In this, accountable processes are as important as high quality research products.

The Trust has built the online accountability database to support researchers, campaigners and research managers to think through the way they use evidence to influence policy in an accountable way. The database takes into account that research organisations are increasingly diverse – they are no longer just  universities, but private companies, public institutes and non-profit think-tanks. No single framework can encompass this diversity.

Instead, the database provides an inventory of over two hundred tools, standards and processes within a broad, overarching accountability framework. With a dynamic interface and several search functions, it allows users to identify aspects of accountability that interests them, and provides ideas to improve their accountability in this context. Each tool is supported by sources and further reading.

We also encourage engagement with and discussion on the database content, through allowing users to comment on individual tools, or to submit their own tools, processes and standards for inclusion.

The database is an output of a three-year project, titled “Accountability Principles for Research Organisations.” Working with partners across the globe, the project has generated an accountability framework which is sufficiently flexible to apply to many contexts and different organisations.

The database will be available online from the 7 September.

For more information about the project please feel free to contact us at For the database, please visit

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