Revolt or revolution?

Andrew Milner

The practicalities of change can be just as complex as the principles they are built on

When I first took the job of Alliance features editor, my biggest anxiety was that there would not be enough copy to fill the pages of the special feature. This was quickly replaced by the fear that all the topics would blend into one, with the same preoccupations, the same remedies recurring each quarter. That is one of the reasons that I and the guest editors in this issue decided to focus more on the practical aspects of transformation – the managerial side of institutions, the vehicles that can be used to put into practice the principles at stake in making changes – than on those principles themselves. The principles are of course crucial but they have been discussed and will continue to be discussed in many forums. That said, it would be impossible and short-sighted to neglect them altogether and they find their place in the following pages either explicitly or by implication.

No transformation will ever be universally adopted, nor even welcomed, by all denizens of the sector, nor will it be brought about by any sudden upheaval.

When the news of the storming of the Bastille which prefaced the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789 was brought to Louis XVI at Versailles, he asked the messenger: ‘Is it a revolt?’ With a perspicacity which has never ceased to astonish historians, the messenger replied, ‘No, sire. It is a revolution.’

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