In the Most Significant Change story approach it is usual for the participants as a whole to listen to the stories and make a selection of that story or those stories which they consider to be most significant for the group or the program.
In the recently held Knowledge Sharing in Research Synthesis workshop, the review and selection of stories was done in a different way. Instead of the participants judging the stories themselves as a group, two people, somewhat outside of the direct KSinR project, were asked to listen to the stories and make comments and selections. These were:
- Meredith Giordano (IWMI)-Senior Researcher involved in Impact work at IWMI and supervising the Project Leader of KSinR
- Debbie Bossio (IWMI)- Senior Researcher and Theme Leader of Productive Water Use Theme–not involved in the KSinR Project at all
And instead of them making their comments and selection just between the two of them (in private), the workshop used a fishbowl technique which involved Meredith and Debbie sitting in the middle of a circle made up up of all the other participants of the workshop.
Meredith and Debbie then commented on all the stories, indicating things they liked about stories, important points, key elements of packaging stories and their thoughts on the importance of particular changes indicated. They also talked about how well these could be ‘sold’ to their research Centres and projects. Everyone was asked to listen to them without interrupting first–and only after they finished their ‘internal’ discussion was it opened up to the wider group.
Some key points made in the fishbowl were:
- Need to focus on ONE significant change–not tell everything about the project
- To show significant change would be good to indicate what was done before/how things were done before–so that a difference can be seen–as Alessandra did in her story
- Give evidence of or demonstrate with an example the change you are talking about–like in Phillip’s story
- Interesting to indicate change in one’s own knowledge, skills, experience as the most significant change–this is very real and important–as shown in Natasja’s story
- Ben’s story showed the importance of finding common interest
- Liked how some stories showed the implications and consequences–what would happen next as a result
- Use of numbers is appealing for scientists–Tonya’s story gave some numbers of farmers and percentage of adoption which made the change seem more concrete
- Debbie pointed out that she couldn’t take anything in particular that she heard to the donors–need to consider target groups when developing stories
- Should indicate what the impact has been or could be due to the change–Alexandra indicated this in her story
- Need to feel free to tell ‘negative’ stories as alot cna be learned from these as well
- Should consider the language we use in our stories
- …and much more!