Blending Outcome Harvesting and Most Significant Change methodologies in documenting change

Documenting the difference, a project has made in people’s lives remains a challenge in international development. I had a great experience in using both outcome harvesting and most significant change methodologies in a reflection workshop held on 27th and 28th September 2021 in Mombasa. The workshop brought together youth influencers from Kwale, Mombasa, Kilifi and Lamu counties engaged in a social behaviour change communication project, implemented by Equal Access international (EAI) in partnership with Mercy Corps.

Most significant change methodology is usually useful in generating stories of change people are experiencing from a project. The greatest lesson I learnt from facilitating MSC is that it encouraged participants to learn more by sharing stories of change and critically analysing the stories together. Interestingly, when combined with outcome harvesting, the learning was enriched and profound. Outcome harvesting is an evaluation tool that identify, describes, verify and analysis outcomes. In Outcome harvesting, outcome is defined as “a change in the behaviour, relationships, actions, activities, policies, or practices of an individual, group, community, organisation, or institution” (Wilson-Grau and Britt 2013). In other words, you document what social actors have done differently as a result of influence from project work.

The significant and interesting observations I made after using the two methodologies were:

  • It is absolutely possible to use the two methodologies with the same participants. The best way is to start with outcome harvesting and then finish with MSC because most likely many outcomes sum up to one or more change stories.
  • Chances of documenting change increased significantly. Outcome harvesting starts by identifying a ‘social actor’ followed with describing ‘change’. The MSC goes straight to describing ‘change’. This means practically change can be captured as an outcome or a set of outcomes and as a story. This is why depth and scope of change is documented more when two methodologies are combined than when one of the two methodologies is used alone.

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