Journal Article Details Five Lessons Learned from TCI’s Use of MSC as an Adaptive Management Tool

by | Mar 7, 2022

The Challenge Initiative (TCI) recently published its lessons learned from using the Most Significant Change Technique (MSC) for adaptive management in the Global Health: Science and Practice (GHSP) journal. MSC is TCI’s primary qualitative data collection approach, which aids in making sense of how TCI works in the dynamic contexts in which it operates. MSC’s story-based approach to qualitative data collection is easy to communicate across different cultures at the same time informing decision-making and enhancing program performance. TCI has institutionalized the use of the MSC technique across multiple countries and diverse stakeholders, and the findings from its assessment suggest that it is an effective qualitative data collection tool to strengthen routine monitoring and adaptive management efforts.

5 Lessons Learned from TCI’s Use of MSC

The article identifies several lessons learned and recommendations to integrate the MSC technique into routine monitoring for adaptive management purposes. Global health professionals who are embarking on similar initiatives may consider the following enabling factors:

  1. Ensure leadership buy-in and a shared vision for using MSC for adaptive management: Project leadership must see the value of using MSC for monitoring and adaptive management, articulate this value and champion its use with staff
  2. Make data collection part of everyone’s job and strengthen staff capacity to collect stories with support and feedback
  3. Develop standard guidance to integrate MSC in routine monitoring and allow teams to adapt the process to best suit its organizational and geographical contexts
  4. Ensure collection and learning from the community level to higher levels of the health system to ensure voices from all stakeholders are heard and inform program improvements
  5. Triangulate data to support significant changes reported in stories and speak to a range of decision-makers

MSC stories provide context to the quantitative monitoring data and help teams to appreciate the impact of TCI’s proven practices.

What is MSC?

MSC has been widely recognized for various adaptive management purposes, for example, to track changes continuously; facilitate learning, responsive feedback, and decision making; and capture program contributions to intended and unintended outcomes. However, to date, the evidence of the effectiveness of the MSC method is still lacking in the monitoring and adaptive management field; therefore, the documentation of practical examples using the MSC technique for ongoing monitoring is limited. Hence, this research aims to fill the current gap in the field of MSC application by documenting and sharing the experience and lessons learned of TCI’s institutionalizing the technique for ongoing monitoring.

To plan for how to overcome potential challenges that may arise when implementing the MSC technique, see the full article for more details.