The Mary Parker Follett Network

Unity, not uniformity, must be our aim. - MPF

I just joined the group after discovering it's existence via Wikipedia, But I have been a fan of Mary's ideas for many years.

It seems to me that now would be the opportune time to push hard for a revival of Mary's ideas and I wonder if members of the group would agree. My view is that the impact of the coronavirus will have a transformational impact on people's world views, and they will be searching for alternatives to the perceived 'wisdom' that has been dominant in recent decades.

Sure we have had crisis in recent history. They have made people start to question, but they haven't resulted in significant changes. The crisis the pandemic is causing is different. In one way or another it has already had a direct impact on almost every citizen in so many countries. Sadly it is likely to have impacted absolutely everyone before it is under control, either directly or indirectly. I believe this will result in an irrepressible force for change, presenting an opportunity that should not be missed.

I'd like to incorporate Mary's ideas in projects I am working on and I wonder if there may be an appetite among group members to engage in some active change efforts, driven by progressing thinking from Mary and others as it related to our situation today?

I am Founder & CEO of the Strategic Management Forum, a membership organisation that exists for the purpose of "advancing the professional practice of strategic management" in businesses and organisations of all types and in all sectors. I advocate that that the social purpose or noble cause of the discipline should be sustainable widely shared prosperity, and I define prosperity as human flourishing and wellbeing.

In my opinion capitalism needs to evolve from its current value extraction form of "Rentier Capitalism" which is serving a tiny elite and destroying democracy, to a model that is focused on value creation - value being measured in terms of contribution to prosperity as I have defined it above.

I believe this vision for capitalism and democracy is consistent with Mary's thinking and her life's work.  

I call the next evolution of capitalism Valueism and, related to it, I am developing the concept of Social Contract Accounting. In introduction to both can be found in the article I wrote for the London School of Economics (a nice coincidence given Mary's relationship with that institution): https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/businessreview/2019/03/28/introducing-value...  

It the above whet's your appetite for more information please email me paul@thesmfglobal.com 

      

 

 

        

 

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Paul, I think your insight is right on. Even if this isn't what we evolutionary thinkers call a point of bifurcation, it is certainly a moment of opportunity to foster transformational reflection, learning, and visioning about our systems, institutions, processes and relationships. And the window will remain open long after the immediate crisis has passed. Follett's own Progressive Era was a similar time, although it was followed by alternating eras of dampening and amplifying turbulence. This is a moment of the latter, and I believe that the ideas would resonate with Follett. In The New State, Follett refers to "The New _____" in a variety of contexts (mostly political), but she doesn't have a chapter called "The New Capitalism". Perhaps you could write an addendum.

     Mary wrote The New State at a time of crisis, when the bleak memory of World War I was still fresh.  That war has been described as the final end f the Enlightenment, and a monument to stupid, senseless wars. 

      We need to write up a new declaration for a 21st Century New State that can expose and hep cure the mistakes that have been made. 

SK

Glad to see this topic here... this group has been a bit dormant for a while!

Here's my own perspective on what is being called for, in these times of viral / ecological / climate crises... as much as anything else, we need a new collaborative epistemology.  Something that is quite different from what Lakoff and Johnson called out, as our mainstream culture's  "argument as battle".  In Folletian terms, we could call what is needed, "effective practices for integration"... 

and, we also need these practices to become wide-spread. Because as Follett herself acknowledged, "Unity does not last but a minute".  (Or something like that. I am paraphrasing here... :-) Thus we need collective practices in which we can engage in, repeatedly and periodically, the way we go to the gym, or to yoga class...

and, we will benefit from practices that are wide-spread enough, so  we can take turns being the point-person or "lead goose", making the flight easier for others for a time, and then having someone else step up as we fly back to the tail of the V formation...

One thing that gives me a lot of hope these days, is the "deliberative rebellion". It's not just that one of Extinction Rebellion's three demands is to have nations sponsor Citizen's Assemblies to guide our societies' transitions into regenerative ways of living; that is only the tip of the iceberg. This movement is keenly interested in participatory democracy at all levels of scale...  something that reminds me of Follett's sense of the group, as the key to the New State...

**

for my upcoming late-in-life dissertation, I have been planning to interview practitioners who have been facilitating Citizen's Councils, a smaller, leaner, and more agile version of a Citizen's Assembly that is being widely used in Austria and Germany.

New forms of democratic innovation are already occurring all around us, as is shown in this overview article by Roman Krznaric, on “Why we need to reinvent democracy for the long-term”; one thing we can do, is help spread the word.

My theoretical framework will be informed by new developments with regard to listening theory and practice.By all accounts, Mary Follett  was an amazing listener. These days, I have been deriving great inspiration from Gemma Corradi Fiumara's "The Other Side of Language: A Philosophy of Listening", and also, by Peter Elbow's work on "The Believing Game".

Also, Andrew  Dobson has built on Corradi Fiumara's work in his "Listening for Democracy: Recognition, Representation, Reconciliation", and I'm aware of Tanya Dreher's work on "the listening  turn"  in cultural  studies. So, lots of rich material to draw from...

And, my heart remains centered in practice. I want to highlight the stories of these practitioners, in a similar way to what John Forester did in his books "Dealing with Differences: Dramas of Mediating Public Disputes", and "Planning in the Face of Conflict: Surprising Possibilities of Facilitative Leadership." (However, I am NOT planning to write a book at this point, only a dissertation!)

***

So, that's what I've been up to, in addition to teaching workshops in advanced group facilitation, consulting with non-profits and social change activists, and now, figuring out how to move more of my  work to on-line... something I've been intending to do for some time now,  and which  this current crisis has been spurring.

Would  love to hear from others.

all best wishes,

Rosa

www.DiaPraxis.com

Hi Rosa - Inspiring work, both in the documentation/story side and the direct practice side. I would love to see what you suggest - abundant and frequent opportunities to practice dialogue, visioning, etc. I would particularly like to see that in every local context. In my own community, I created a non-profit umbrella to promote this kind of thing (http://boisecommons.org), but it is difficult to find "meta" people in my own city - that is, people who recognize that our lack of capacity to engage in dialogue and create together is itself an "issue" that deserves to be addressed through its own form of advocacy and activism. The crisis of the moment, the political battle of the moment - these still draw the bulk of attention from even my most progressive friends and acquaintances. But it is the mission, and we will find fertile ground, as it has been found in other places. I am also wary of only talking/interacting with the like-minded - which, as Follett noted, "is for the shirkers". Not that the like-minded don't need to find each other, the kindred spirits that keep the flame burning together, but the circle needs to grow and interact with other circles, eh? 

Best regards - Matthew

Rosa Zubizarreta said:

Glad to see this topic here... this group has been a bit dormant for a while!

Here's my own perspective on what is being called for, in these times of viral / ecological / climate crises... as much as anything else, we need a new collaborative epistemology.  Something that is quite different from what Lakoff and Johnson called out, as our mainstream culture's  "argument as battle".  In Folletian terms, we could call what is needed, "effective practices for integration"... 

and, we also need these practices to become wide-spread. Because as Follett herself acknowledged, "Unity does not last but a minute".  (Or something like that. I am paraphrasing here... :-) Thus we need collective practices in which we can engage in, repeatedly and periodically, the way we go to the gym, or to yoga class...

and, we will benefit from practices that are wide-spread enough, so  we can take turns being the point-person or "lead goose", making the flight easier for others for a time, and then having someone else step up as we fly back to the tail of the V formation...

One thing that gives me a lot of hope these days, is the "deliberative rebellion". It's not just that one of Extinction Rebellion's three demands is to have nations sponsor Citizen's Assemblies to guide our societies' transitions into regenerative ways of living; that is only the tip of the iceberg. This movement is keenly interested in participatory democracy at all levels of scale...  something that reminds me of Follett's sense of the group, as the key to the New State...

**

for my upcoming late-in-life dissertation, I have been planning to interview practitioners who have been facilitating Citizen's Councils, a smaller, leaner, and more agile version of a Citizen's Assembly that is being widely used in Austria and Germany.

New forms of democratic innovation are already occurring all around us, as is shown in this overview article by Roman Krznaric, on “Why we need to reinvent democracy for the long-term”; one thing we can do, is help spread the word.

My theoretical framework will be informed by new developments with regard to listening theory and practice.By all accounts, Mary Follett  was an amazing listener. These days, I have been deriving great inspiration from Gemma Corradi Fiumara's "The Other Side of Language: A Philosophy of Listening", and also, by Peter Elbow's work on "The Believing Game".

Also, Andrew  Dobson has built on Corradi Fiumara's work in his "Listening for Democracy: Recognition, Representation, Reconciliation", and I'm aware of Tanya Dreher's work on "the listening  turn"  in cultural  studies. So, lots of rich material to draw from...

And, my heart remains centered in practice. I want to highlight the stories of these practitioners, in a similar way to what John Forester did in his books "Dealing with Differences: Dramas of Mediating Public Disputes", and "Planning in the Face of Conflict: Surprising Possibilities of Facilitative Leadership." (However, I am NOT planning to write a book at this point, only a dissertation!)

***

So, that's what I've been up to, in addition to teaching workshops in advanced group facilitation, consulting with non-profits and social change activists, and now, figuring out how to move more of my  work to on-line... something I've been intending to do for some time now,  and which  this current crisis has been spurring.

Would  love to hear from others.

all best wishes,

Rosa

www.DiaPraxis.com

Matthew,

I'd love to write a chapter on The New Capitalism, which I am sure would be in the spirit of Mary's thinking. And I am glad to see the other responses from Stephen and Rosa.

I agree with what Rosa is suggesting to. 

Just to be clear, as Rosa suggests, I think there were already some very positive and progressive ideas and initiatives developing before this crisis. I just think the crisis will represent the tipping point at which questioning and the search for new ideas becomes a mass movement, even if still a fragmented one. Such a situation presents the need for Mary's approaches to integrate those fragmented new ideas and to direct them towards positive and progressive ends. Her multi-disciplinary thinking will also be essential.

After the last crisis new ideas emerged, but they remain fragmented. Recently I considered how we achieve change. I concluded it has to be multi-disciplinary. Then I considered how we achieve that as both academia and the real world has become a world of specialists operating in silos and in different languages - one of the causes of our problems and an issue I tackled in a conference which evolved from The Silo Effect, a book by the FT columnist Gillian Tett and an interview I did with her.

The solution, I believe, will be a series of large-scale, global, open, multi-disciplinary, research-led, inquiries that I plan to launch soon. It has been some journey to get to this point and would require a book for me to explain, but the following is where I have got to.

One Inquiry will focus on developing a "21st Century Theory of Moral Sentiments", this will link to a second inquiry to establish a "21st Century Theory of Value". And together they will inform an "Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Prosperity of Nations".  I am sure you will have realised that I am borrowing from the ideas and approaches of Adam Smith of which, particularly in the case of Moral Sentiments, I see many parallels with Mary's thinking, providing we read what Smith actually said, rather than the corrupt interpretations of his ideas.

The order in which I have listed these initiatives relates to the order of Smith's works and makes sense because values must inform any Theory of Value and any notion of prosperity needs to be informed by a Theory of Value. I would like these inquiries to be endless / ongoing because of the dynamic, ever evolving nature of these issues, again this is derived from an appreciation of Mary's arguments.

In my first post I spoke of the next evolution of capitalism as being driven by value creation not extraction. My comments in this post provide some more context I hope, but in very brief terms.

Where the work I wish to do differs from Smith's approach, and is more aligned with Mary's, and what Rosa is suggesting, is that I do not want this to be the work of me as an individual. I would like this to be open, large-scale and inclusive. I see the value of it not in any 'products' of it, but from the process and the debates and discussions it might provoke. But I hope the concept of the "social contract" will be a way to channel behaviour change that the discussions stimulate, from the individual up to international / inter-governmental levels.

It would be great to be able to engage people within this network, and perhaps the network as a whole, in the inquiries I am developing. My first steps are the design of these inquires, for which I am establishing multi-disciplinary advisory panels. I will also need to consider a funding model to sustain the inquiries and the platforms that support them, again I hope to draw on the suggestions and experience of others where possible.

This article provides a little more background to my initial thinking. https://medium.com/the-prosperity-of-nations/introducing-the-inquir...; I will be publishing another article soon.  

Matthew Shapiro said:

Paul, I think your insight is right on. Even if this isn't what we evolutionary thinkers call a point of bifurcation, it is certainly a moment of opportunity to foster transformational reflection, learning, and visioning about our systems, institutions, processes and relationships. And the window will remain open long after the immediate crisis has passed. Follett's own Progressive Era was a similar time, although it was followed by alternating eras of dampening and amplifying turbulence. This is a moment of the latter, and I believe that the ideas would resonate with Follett. In The New State, Follett refers to "The New _____" in a variety of contexts (mostly political), but she doesn't have a chapter called "The New Capitalism". Perhaps you could write an addendum.

Paul,

Thanks for this. I quite agree. Let's be in touch. dmcclean@rutgers.edu 

David E. McClean, Senior Lecturer, Philosophy, Rutgers University

Trustee, The New School

Governor, The New School for Social Research

Paul,

Thank you for sharing this post.

I tend to agree with you that coronavirus is leading to transformation.  Of course, it's up to some to welcome the transformation and perhaps give it some direction.  Transformation can be simple upheaval or dramatic change.

I think it's important that the depth of the teachings of MPF be explored and given work-attention.  I say that, as it's way too often a phenomenon that people pick up the teachings of so-and-so and then, with the best of intentions, apply them to another agenda, as opposed to submitting the agenda to the teachings.  There's a huge difference between these approaches.  

I share this, not to imply that this is happening here. I share it simply as a way of pointing to a depth of MPF's teachings that, according to me, go way deeper than many people realize.

Best of luck with your activities.

All good wishes,

robert 

Thanks David, I will email you.  

David E. McClcean said:

Paul,

Thanks for this. I quite agree. Let's be in touch. dmcclean@rutgers.edu 

David E. McClean, Senior Lecturer, Philosophy, Rutgers University

Trustee, The New School

Governor, The New School for Social Research

Robert,

Yes, I agree with what you say. I like to try and develop a deep understanding of the original authors ideas. It is also interesting to try and understand how their views were arrived at and in what context. I also like to compare their views to other writers on the same topic, particularly from different eras. I can see in Mary's thinking some of Adam Smith and much earlier philosophers. I am also interested in the way her ideas are reflected in the more recent thinking e.g. by Roger Martin and his take on integrative thinking. 

Robert W said:

Paul,

Thank you for sharing this post.

I tend to agree with you that coronavirus is leading to transformation.  Of course, it's up to some to welcome the transformation and perhaps give it some direction.  Transformation can be simple upheaval or dramatic change.

I think it's important that the depth of the teachings of MPF be explored and given work-attention.  I say that, as it's way too often a phenomenon that people pick up the teachings of so-and-so and then, with the best of intentions, apply them to another agenda, as opposed to submitting the agenda to the teachings.  There's a huge difference between these approaches.  

I share this, not to imply that this is happening here. I share it simply as a way of pointing to a depth of MPF's teachings that, according to me, go way deeper than many people realize.

Best of luck with your activities.

All good wishes,

robert 

Paul - Have you read David Christian's book Origin Story? It's a "Big History" book, a sort of compact history of the universe through present day society, tied together by the theme of energy and entropy. I bring it up because he mentions how some of the ideas of the founders of modern capitalist thinking have been taken far beyond what they envisioned, and that they themselves expressed cautions related to what you're getting at.

-Matthew

Paul Barnett said:

Matthew,

I'd love to write a chapter on The New Capitalism, which I am sure would be in the spirit of Mary's thinking. And I am glad to see the other responses from Stephen and Rosa.

I agree with what Rosa is suggesting to. 

Just to be clear, as Rosa suggests, I think there were already some very positive and progressive ideas and initiatives developing before this crisis. I just think the crisis will represent the tipping point at which questioning and the search for new ideas becomes a mass movement, even if still a fragmented one. Such a situation presents the need for Mary's approaches to integrate those fragmented new ideas and to direct them towards positive and progressive ends. Her multi-disciplinary thinking will also be essential.

After the last crisis new ideas emerged, but they remain fragmented. Recently I considered how we achieve change. I concluded it has to be multi-disciplinary. Then I considered how we achieve that as both academia and the real world has become a world of specialists operating in silos and in different languages - one of the causes of our problems and an issue I tackled in a conference which evolved from The Silo Effect, a book by the FT columnist Gillian Tett and an interview I did with her.

The solution, I believe, will be a series of large-scale, global, open, multi-disciplinary, research-led, inquiries that I plan to launch soon. It has been some journey to get to this point and would require a book for me to explain, but the following is where I have got to.

One Inquiry will focus on developing a "21st Century Theory of Moral Sentiments", this will link to a second inquiry to establish a "21st Century Theory of Value". And together they will inform an "Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Prosperity of Nations".  I am sure you will have realised that I am borrowing from the ideas and approaches of Adam Smith of which, particularly in the case of Moral Sentiments, I see many parallels with Mary's thinking, providing we read what Smith actually said, rather than the corrupt interpretations of his ideas.

The order in which I have listed these initiatives relates to the order of Smith's works and makes sense because values must inform any Theory of Value and any notion of prosperity needs to be informed by a Theory of Value. I would like these inquiries to be endless / ongoing because of the dynamic, ever evolving nature of these issues, again this is derived from an appreciation of Mary's arguments.

In my first post I spoke of the next evolution of capitalism as being driven by value creation not extraction. My comments in this post provide some more context I hope, but in very brief terms.

Where the work I wish to do differs from Smith's approach, and is more aligned with Mary's, and what Rosa is suggesting, is that I do not want this to be the work of me as an individual. I would like this to be open, large-scale and inclusive. I see the value of it not in any 'products' of it, but from the process and the debates and discussions it might provoke. But I hope the concept of the "social contract" will be a way to channel behaviour change that the discussions stimulate, from the individual up to international / inter-governmental levels.

It would be great to be able to engage people within this network, and perhaps the network as a whole, in the inquiries I am developing. My first steps are the design of these inquires, for which I am establishing multi-disciplinary advisory panels. I will also need to consider a funding model to sustain the inquiries and the platforms that support them, again I hope to draw on the suggestions and experience of others where possible.

This article provides a little more background to my initial thinking. https://medium.com/the-prosperity-of-nations/introducing-the-inquir...; I will be publishing another article soon.  

Matthew Shapiro said:

Paul, I think your insight is right on. Even if this isn't what we evolutionary thinkers call a point of bifurcation, it is certainly a moment of opportunity to foster transformational reflection, learning, and visioning about our systems, institutions, processes and relationships. And the window will remain open long after the immediate crisis has passed. Follett's own Progressive Era was a similar time, although it was followed by alternating eras of dampening and amplifying turbulence. This is a moment of the latter, and I believe that the ideas would resonate with Follett. In The New State, Follett refers to "The New _____" in a variety of contexts (mostly political), but she doesn't have a chapter called "The New Capitalism". Perhaps you could write an addendum.

Important point, Robert. Will we learn from this and apply that learning? I've attached an image exploring this. (Please don't distribute - I am in the process of asking the illustrators of the evolutionary change diagram for their blessing to build upon it as I've done here).

Matthew

Robert W said:

Paul,

Thank you for sharing this post.

I tend to agree with you that coronavirus is leading to transformation.  Of course, it's up to some to welcome the transformation and perhaps give it some direction.  Transformation can be simple upheaval or dramatic change.

I think it's important that the depth of the teachings of MPF be explored and given work-attention.  I say that, as it's way too often a phenomenon that people pick up the teachings of so-and-so and then, with the best of intentions, apply them to another agenda, as opposed to submitting the agenda to the teachings.  There's a huge difference between these approaches.  

I share this, not to imply that this is happening here. I share it simply as a way of pointing to a depth of MPF's teachings that, according to me, go way deeper than many people realize.

Best of luck with your activities.

All good wishes,

robert 

Attachments:

Matthew,

No, I don't know David Christian's work. I will take a look and add it to my reading list. Thanks for the tip.  

Matthew Shapiro said:

Paul - Have you read David Christian's book Origin Story? It's a "Big History" book, a sort of compact history of the universe through present day society, tied together by the theme of energy and entropy. I bring it up because he mentions how some of the ideas of the founders of modern capitalist thinking have been taken far beyond what they envisioned, and that they themselves expressed cautions related to what you're getting at.

-Matthew

Paul Barnett said:

Matthew,

I'd love to write a chapter on The New Capitalism, which I am sure would be in the spirit of Mary's thinking. And I am glad to see the other responses from Stephen and Rosa.

I agree with what Rosa is suggesting to. 

Just to be clear, as Rosa suggests, I think there were already some very positive and progressive ideas and initiatives developing before this crisis. I just think the crisis will represent the tipping point at which questioning and the search for new ideas becomes a mass movement, even if still a fragmented one. Such a situation presents the need for Mary's approaches to integrate those fragmented new ideas and to direct them towards positive and progressive ends. Her multi-disciplinary thinking will also be essential.

After the last crisis new ideas emerged, but they remain fragmented. Recently I considered how we achieve change. I concluded it has to be multi-disciplinary. Then I considered how we achieve that as both academia and the real world has become a world of specialists operating in silos and in different languages - one of the causes of our problems and an issue I tackled in a conference which evolved from The Silo Effect, a book by the FT columnist Gillian Tett and an interview I did with her.

The solution, I believe, will be a series of large-scale, global, open, multi-disciplinary, research-led, inquiries that I plan to launch soon. It has been some journey to get to this point and would require a book for me to explain, but the following is where I have got to.

One Inquiry will focus on developing a "21st Century Theory of Moral Sentiments", this will link to a second inquiry to establish a "21st Century Theory of Value". And together they will inform an "Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Prosperity of Nations".  I am sure you will have realised that I am borrowing from the ideas and approaches of Adam Smith of which, particularly in the case of Moral Sentiments, I see many parallels with Mary's thinking, providing we read what Smith actually said, rather than the corrupt interpretations of his ideas.

The order in which I have listed these initiatives relates to the order of Smith's works and makes sense because values must inform any Theory of Value and any notion of prosperity needs to be informed by a Theory of Value. I would like these inquiries to be endless / ongoing because of the dynamic, ever evolving nature of these issues, again this is derived from an appreciation of Mary's arguments.

In my first post I spoke of the next evolution of capitalism as being driven by value creation not extraction. My comments in this post provide some more context I hope, but in very brief terms.

Where the work I wish to do differs from Smith's approach, and is more aligned with Mary's, and what Rosa is suggesting, is that I do not want this to be the work of me as an individual. I would like this to be open, large-scale and inclusive. I see the value of it not in any 'products' of it, but from the process and the debates and discussions it might provoke. But I hope the concept of the "social contract" will be a way to channel behaviour change that the discussions stimulate, from the individual up to international / inter-governmental levels.

It would be great to be able to engage people within this network, and perhaps the network as a whole, in the inquiries I am developing. My first steps are the design of these inquires, for which I am establishing multi-disciplinary advisory panels. I will also need to consider a funding model to sustain the inquiries and the platforms that support them, again I hope to draw on the suggestions and experience of others where possible.

This article provides a little more background to my initial thinking. https://medium.com/the-prosperity-of-nations/introducing-the-inquir...; I will be publishing another article soon.  

Matthew Shapiro said:

Paul, I think your insight is right on. Even if this isn't what we evolutionary thinkers call a point of bifurcation, it is certainly a moment of opportunity to foster transformational reflection, learning, and visioning about our systems, institutions, processes and relationships. And the window will remain open long after the immediate crisis has passed. Follett's own Progressive Era was a similar time, although it was followed by alternating eras of dampening and amplifying turbulence. This is a moment of the latter, and I believe that the ideas would resonate with Follett. In The New State, Follett refers to "The New _____" in a variety of contexts (mostly political), but she doesn't have a chapter called "The New Capitalism". Perhaps you could write an addendum.

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