The Mary Parker Follett Network

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

I am fairly sure that they probably never worked together, but Joan Tonn notes that she read the Bulletin of the Taylor society and she did work with/for Louis Brandeis, I believe, who worked closely with Taylor.

I'd be really interested to know if they did meet and how they got on.  

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Hello Jonathan,

I love these kinds of questions! Not knowing the answer is a stimulus to see if we can find or surmise an answer.

Did Mary Parker Follett and F. W. Taylor ever meet? And, if so, how did they get on?

From Lyndall Urwick Golden Book of Management (1956), where they, their photos and curriculum vitae have been residing among the pages, I see that Taylor died in 1915, so I would guess that if they met, it was not because she was known to the emerging field of business and management as a profession.

I have a note in my "homemade chronology" which has evolved since 1989, when I first "met" Follett. I see that in 1914 she first met H. C. Metcalf in the Vocational Bureau. I have a (FOX) note, so that means Fox cited this in his doctoral thesis, which I may have sent to Emmanuel Grotel (are you there, Emmanuel?). I also see that Joan Tonn assumes that Follett and Metcalf met because he was serving on the Executive Committee of the Vocational Bureau, "the group whose vocational guidance activities were taken over and expanded within Follett's Placement Bureau.

If this is the case, and if Brandies worked with Taylor, they may have met socially. Isobel Briggs, Follett's life partner for 30 years, and Follett lived at 5 Otis Place directly across the street from the Brandeis, with whom they were personal friends. Tonn says they were comfortably settled there by the winter of 1909-1910. These were "sociable days" in Boston, many powerful folks who lived within easy walking distance in Boston, a most walkable town.

Also, from Tonn's book (p 446) we know that in 1927 she spoke in Philadelphia at the request of Morris L. Cooke, then president of the Taylor Society, and in earlier years a trusted associate of Taylor.

I like to think they met at the Brandies' home at a dinner party, I can see and hear the cut crystal sherry classes right now! And I imagine her unique ability to listen to people and draw them out, see how their experiences were significant to universal themes, well, this would have been very appealing to Taylor. Lyndal Urwick, says of his first face to face personal meeting with Follett, which he confesses prior to he had already assumed her a gaunt Yankee spinster, that within two minutes he was at her feet where he remained the rest of her life.

Her own thinking was always evolving. In 1914-1915, she was still drawing together her experience to that time, which she would soon express in The New State (published in 1918, but developed for a few years prior). I believe she made her ideas richer and more universal in Creative Experience in 1924.

Great question. Thanks. That's it for today!

Albie Davis
Hi Albie, Hi Jonathan,
I made some researches in Fox'Thesis, but I have to say there is no words abt any "meeting" between Mary Follett and Taylor...
Emmanuel
Dear Albie and Emmanuel,

Thank you very much for your helpful answers. I too wonder if they met socially via Louis Brandeis. Wikipedia suggests that Brandeis did not entertain lavishly, but I can imagine informal gatherings.

Although the interpretation and application of Taylor's ideas have been so traumatic, It seems that he was well-intentioned, if fundamentally mistaken in his views about how to lead a business. And it is fair to say that in the unique context of his time, with the surging of mass-production coinciding with mass immigration and people arriving with limited English, Taylor's approach was understandable - standardisation and obedience may have made sense while communication is difficult. Apparently, it was Louis Brandeis who coined the phrase 'Scientific Management' in his pleading against the Railroad's request to increase in charges, suggesting that instead of increasing tarrifs, they could use scientific management "to save a million dollars a day".

Louis Brandeis went on to become a very influential Supreme Court Judge through the personal acquaintance and recommendation of Woodrow Wilson, and is thus another example of how Mary Follett was part of the leadership network of US society.

Thanks again!
Hello again, Jonathan,

Over the years, I've developed my own indexes for Follett's writing, generally not indexed. I looked up Brandeis in my New State (1918) Index. I have one entry, "Mrs. Brandeis," page 15.

"The inception of the book is due to my friends and fellow-workers, Mrs. Louis Brandeis, Mrs. Richard Cabot and Mr. Arthur Woodworth, as also much of its thought to the stimulus of "group" discussion with them. Mrs. Charles W. Mixter, Professor Albert Bushnell Hart, Professor H. A. Overstreet, Professor W. Ernest Hocking and Mr. Roscoe Pound have read the manuscript in full or in part and have given me many valuable suggestions."

Follett and Isobel Briggs lived at 5 Otis Street and the Brandeis's lived at 6 Otis Street. The Street is short and narrow with wall to wall townhouses with steps coming right to the sidewalk, no front yards. They would only have to walk a few paces to see one another on a daily basis.

So, maybe a review of the Boston Globe might reveal when Taylor was in town! Maybe such a visit made the social pages.

Keep on probing.

Albie

Jonathan Wilson said:
Dear Albie and Emmanuel,
Thank you very much for your helpful answers. I too wonder if they met socially via Louis Brandeis. Wikipedia suggests that Brandeis did not entertain lavishly, but I can imagine informal gatherings. Although the interpretation and application of Taylor's ideas have been so traumatic, It seems that he was well-intentioned, if fundamentally mistaken in his views about how to lead a business. And it is fair to say that in the unique context of his time, with the surging of mass-production coinciding with mass immigration and people arriving with limited English, Taylor's approach was understandable - standardisation and obedience may have made sense while communication is difficult. Apparently, it was Louis Brandeis who coined the phrase 'Scientific Management' in his pleading against the Railroad's request to increase in charges, suggesting that instead of increasing tarrifs, they could use scientific management "to save a million dollars a day".
Louis Brandeis went on to become a very influential Supreme Court Judge through the personal acquaintance and recommendation of Woodrow Wilson, and is thus another example of how Mary Follett was part of the leadership network of US society.

Thanks again!
Hi dear Albie! using online searches I couldn't find any reference to Taylor in either The New State or Creative Experience. However her talks published in Dynamic Administration (mostly given between 1924-27) make reference to things said at the Taylor society, and to "the Taylor system." DA also includes a talk she gave in 1926 to the Taylor Society, "THe Illusion of Final Authority."

Albie M. Davis said:
Hello again, Jonathan,

Over the years, I've developed my own indexes for Follett's writing, generally not indexed. I looked up Brandeis in my New State (1918) Index. I have one entry, "Mrs. Brandeis," page 15.

"The inception of the book is due to my friends and fellow-workers, Mrs. Louis Brandeis, Mrs. Richard Cabot and Mr. Arthur Woodworth, as also much of its thought to the stimulus of "group" discussion with them. Mrs. Charles W. Mixter, Professor Albert Bushnell Hart, Professor H. A. Overstreet, Professor W. Ernest Hocking and Mr. Roscoe Pound have read the manuscript in full or in part and have given me many valuable suggestions."

Follett and Isobel Briggs lived at 5 Otis Street and the Brandeis's lived at 6 Otis Street. The Street is short and narrow with wall to wall townhouses with steps coming right to the sidewalk, no front yards. They would only have to walk a few paces to see one another on a daily basis.

So, maybe a review of the Boston Globe might reveal when Taylor was in town! Maybe such a visit made the social pages.

Keep on probing.

Albie

Jonathan Wilson said:
Dear Albie and Emmanuel,
Thank you very much for your helpful answers. I too wonder if they met socially via Louis Brandeis. Wikipedia suggests that Brandeis did not entertain lavishly, but I can imagine informal gatherings. Although the interpretation and application of Taylor's ideas have been so traumatic, It seems that he was well-intentioned, if fundamentally mistaken in his views about how to lead a business. And it is fair to say that in the unique context of his time, with the surging of mass-production coinciding with mass immigration and people arriving with limited English, Taylor's approach was understandable - standardisation and obedience may have made sense while communication is difficult. Apparently, it was Louis Brandeis who coined the phrase 'Scientific Management' in his pleading against the Railroad's request to increase in charges, suggesting that instead of increasing tarrifs, they could use scientific management "to save a million dollars a day".
Louis Brandeis went on to become a very influential Supreme Court Judge through the personal acquaintance and recommendation of Woodrow Wilson, and is thus another example of how Mary Follett was part of the leadership network of US society.

Thanks again!

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