Can MSC work for me? 5 Questions to ask yourself by Sarah Alden

An MSC approach can help you explore which elements of your service lead to change, and gain a sense of the perceived significance of these from a range of viewpoints. However, before embarking on MSC, it is important to make sure it offers the right fit for the needs of your organisation. To help you get started, we suggest you ask yourself the following 5 questions:

1. Are you looking to measure particular indicators or answer set questions?

As there are no pre-set questions, MSC works best when you unsure about some of the impacts that your service achieves. MSC is also less suited if you need to identify the ‘average’ experience of service users. Where this is the case, it may be better to adopt a different approach, though you could potentially build in an element of MSC (perhaps as part of a mixture of methods, if resources allow)

2. Do you wish to explore unexpected or unplanned impact?

MSC offers a useful tool to help identify how the services you offer lead to impact. It encourages participants to think about what is important from their own perspective, which can help identify changes that are unanticipated. This can elicit new learning which would not necessarily come to light if a more traditional, structured interview approach is used.

3. Are you interested in raising awareness of your service and learning from others?

Once you collect stories of change from service users, a range of stakeholders are invited to story discussion panels, which may include funders and those who offer similar or complementary services in your local area. To promote stimulating discussion the panels follow a reflective approach. This can help bring your service impacts to life and offer invaluable insights around what “success” looks like to different stakeholders.

4. Is a collaborative approach important to you?

MRC can help identify meaningful ideas for change through allowing the voice of people accessing services, and the stakeholders you work with, to be heard throughout the process. MSC acknowledges that the process can get “messy” with diverse and sometimes contrasting views, which can help gain a sense of the particular elements of your service that lead to change (both positive and negative).

5. Are you able to allocate the necessary resources?

As a ‘layered’ approach, MSC takes time. Some of the main tasks to consider are ensuring a suitably qualified facilitator to capture stories, fact checking, designing, delivering and analysing panel discussions, and getting the ‘right’ people in the room to discuss the stories and to inform action planning.

If MSC sounds like it could be for you, why not take a look at some of the other resources on our website, or please get in touch to find out how we can help!