openDemocracyUK

Delivering effective change

Anthony Barnett
Anthony Barnett
25 November 2010

It's all go at OurKingdom even though it is not yet showing up on the page. Guy Aitchison has started his PhD at UCL and is now taking part in the occupation there, you can follow it on twitter #ucloccupation. I have just come back from listening to Andrew Adonis talking about the delivery of public service reform, at ippr. He talked us through three reforms: Labour's second go at tuition fees, the creation of Teach First and the establishment of Academy Schools (that, he thinks, stopped Tory calls for Grammar Schools).

He sees six lessons for effective reforms:

  1. Being preceded by and learning from failure
  2. Not attempting 'whole-system' change but focusing on the 'next big step'
  3. Drawing on successful examples that can be transplanted or scaled
  4. Having utterly determined political backing
  5. Ensuring that there is deep support amongst those who have to deliver the change, whatever they may say in public
  6. Quickly forming a consensus around their initial success

With this combination, such reforms can then become "transformative". The contrast with the wholesale approach of the Coalition, as it seeks to change everything as fast as possible, is striking. Adonis reminded me of the passage where Burke talks about the need for caution, experience and how all plans can be improved.

I have been re-reading Burke in preparation for a seminar discussion with David Marquand this evening - where I will be holding up the banner of Paine. This too, I hope to report back on.

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