The Mary Parker Follett Network

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

Is it time to reconsider our MPF banner:  Unity, not uniformity, must be our aim. - MPF

Did Follett's thoughts on unity continue to evolve, as did much of her thinking?  I've just been rereading the talk she gave in early 1933 (she died in Boston in December of that year) to the newly formed Department of Business Administration at the London School of Economics under the collective title of The Problem of Organisation and Co-ordination in Business.

I'm reading from Freedom and Coordination originally published in 1949.  Page 76.  In 1933, in London, Follett is saying:

"The most important thing to remember about unity is -- that there is no such thing.  There is only unifying.  You cannot get unity and expect it to last a day--or five minutes."

She did like those "ings!"

Albie Davis


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Pauline Graham said:
Pauline Graham said:
Matthew Shapiro said:
This issue of "progress" reminds me of an exchange I had with Kevin Mattson, who wrote the historical intro to the 1998 edition of The New State. He said that as a postmodernist, he took issue with what he perceived as Follett's idea of an evolutionary journey that had a particular direction. As a student of general evolutionary theory, I disagreed, suggesting that when you look at the longest-term picture, there have been a spiral series of shifts toward both greater differentiation and greater integration in the universe and in human society alike. That while the dangers and wounds from "progress" deepen with each era, the benefits and promise increase even more.

This is ultimately tied to the mythic concept of a universe (and a life) that is simultaneously challenging, dangerous, and perfect (I use the word "mythic" in the spiritual sense, not in the sense of "imaginary.") I believe that this crosses us over from science into spirituality, and faith. Faith not in some inevitable golden age, but in our potential to get closer. "Progress is an infinite advance toward the infinitely receding goal of infinite perfection," says Follett in The New State. If that sentence does not capture the essence of the human journey, I don't know what does.

Albie M. Davis said:
Tom,

You are on to something here. Maybe the paradox of the bondage between "eds" and "ings." The ability of Follett to make me think twice about any "givens." I could write a whole book about her one line, "I always feel intimate with my enemies." (New State, 212)

I'm taking up way too much space on this forum, so after this, I'll take a vacation for a while, the one I urged Follett to take.

As a mediator and mediator trainer, I'm always on the lookout for pithy one-liners to get across a point. Yesterday in the Fox/Urwick edition, p. 282, I came across another Follett gem, which seems along the lines of your comment, "That which you pursue evades you . . . "

"Confidence cannot be forced."

Now, the last page of The New State, p. 360, gives us a sense of where she was heading as she finished off this book, while WWI was still being waged, I believe:

"This book is a plea for the more abundant life: for the fulness of life and the growing life. It is a plea against everything static, against the idea that there need be any passive material within the social bond. It is a plea for a splendid progress dependent upon every splendid one of us."

My personal thoughts? Although I think Follett's philosophy is timeless and universal in many ways, for better and worse, as an American, she is also "of our culture," and the "progress paradigm” can be a form of bondage.

I’m eager to hear what those not enamored with the concept of “progress” have to say.

Over and out for a month! Albie


Tom Let said:
I am reminded of the saying, That which you pursue evades you (and that which you evade pursues you). In that respect, I don't think that pursuing unity is as much of a bondage issue as it is a matter of wasted effort. In other words, you cannot go directly after unity in the same way that you cannot pursue love or friendship by going directly at them. It seems to me that in these cases one would have to first think of the necessary conditions that will have to be met in order to create a situation that is favorable to the creation of love, friendship, unity, or what have you. Take love, for instance. A person complaining about not having any love in his (her) life would be advised that the way to gain love is to follow the dictum that "the whole world loves a lover." In other words, pursue your interests, get involved wholeheartedly in life and love will follow.
That issue aside, Albie quotes Follett:
Never settle down within the theory you have chosen, the cause you have embraced; know that another theory, another cause exists, and seek that. The enhancement of life is not for the comfort-lover. As soon as you succeed--real success means something arising to overthrow your sercurity.

Emerson comes to mind with his "Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." However, I would like to bet that Follett, just like Emerson, had a world view that allowed for an Absolute as the background for it all. In that sense, all the flux in their lives--be it inconsistency or lack of adherence to this or that theory--had a secure foothold at the base of their lives.
Pauline Graham said:
Pauline Graham said:
Pauline Graham said:
Matthew Shapiro said:
This issue of "progress" reminds me of an exchange I had with Kevin Mattson, who wrote the historical intro to the 1998 edition of The New State. He said that as a postmodernist, he took issue with what he perceived as Follett's idea of an evolutionary journey that had a particular direction. As a student of general evolutionary theory, I disagreed, suggesting that when you look at the longest-term picture, there have been a spiral series of shifts toward both greater differentiation and greater integration in the universe and in human society alike. That while the dangers and wounds from "progress" deepen with each era, the benefits and promise increase even more.

This is ultimately tied to the mythic concept of a universe (and a life) that is simultaneously challenging, dangerous, and perfect (I use the word "mythic" in the spiritual sense, not in the sense of "imaginary.") I believe that this crosses us over from science into spirituality, and faith. Faith not in some inevitable golden age, but in our potential to get closer. "Progress is an infinite advance toward the infinitely receding goal of infinite perfection," says Follett in The New State. If that sentence does not capture the essence of the human journey, I don't know what does.

Albie M. Davis said:
Tom,

You are on to something here. Maybe the paradox of the bondage between "eds" and "ings." The ability of Follett to make me think twice about any "givens." I could write a whole book about her one line, "I always feel intimate with my enemies." (New State, 212)

I'm taking up way too much space on this forum, so after this, I'll take a vacation for a while, the one I urged Follett to take.

As a mediator and mediator trainer, I'm always on the lookout for pithy one-liners to get across a point. Yesterday in the Fox/Urwick edition, p. 282, I came across another Follett gem, which seems along the lines of your comment, "That which you pursue evades you . . . "

"Confidence cannot be forced."

Now, the last page of The New State, p. 360, gives us a sense of where she was heading as she finished off this book, while WWI was still being waged, I believe:

"This book is a plea for the more abundant life: for the fulness of life and the growing life. It is a plea against everything static, against the idea that there need be any passive material within the social bond. It is a plea for a splendid progress dependent upon every splendid one of us."

My personal thoughts? Although I think Follett's philosophy is timeless and universal in many ways, for better and worse, as an American, she is also "of our culture," and the "progress paradigm” can be a form of bondage.

I’m eager to hear what those not enamored with the concept of “progress” have to say.

Over and out for a month! Albie


Tom Let said:
I am reminded of the saying, That which you pursue evades you (and that which you evade pursues you). In that respect, I don't think that pursuing unity is as much of a bondage issue as it is a matter of wasted effort. In other words, you cannot go directly after unity in the same way that you cannot pursue love or friendship by going directly at them. It seems to me that in these cases one would have to first think of the necessary conditions that will have to be met in order to create a situation that is favorable to the creation of love, friendship, unity, or what have you. Take love, for instance. A person complaining about not having any love in his (her) life would be advised that the way to gain love is to follow the dictum that "the whole world loves a lover." In other words, pursue your interests, get involved wholeheartedly in life and love will follow.
That issue aside, Albie quotes Follett:
Never settle down within the theory you have chosen, the cause you have embraced; know that another theory, another cause exists, and seek that. The enhancement of life is not for the comfort-lover. As soon as you succeed--real success means something arising to overthrow your sercurity.

Emerson comes to mind with his "Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." However, I would like to bet that Follett, just like Emerson, had a world view that allowed for an Absolute as the background for it all. In that sense, all the flux in their lives--be it inconsistency or lack of adherence to this or that theory--had a secure foothold at the base of their lives.
Pauline Graham said:
Pauline Graham said:
Pauline Graham said:
Matthew Shapiro said:
This issue of "progress" reminds me of an exchange I had with Kevin Mattson, who wrote the historical intro to the 1998 edition of The New State. He said that as a postmodernist, he took issue with what he perceived as Follett's idea of an evolutionary journey that had a particular direction. As a student of general evolutionary theory, I disagreed, suggesting that when you look at the longest-term picture, there have been a spiral series of shifts toward both greater differentiation and greater integration in the universe and in human society alike. That while the dangers and wounds from "progress" deepen with each era, the benefits and promise increase even more.

This is ultimately tied to the mythic concept of a universe (and a life) that is simultaneously challenging, dangerous, and perfect (I use the word "mythic" in the spiritual sense, not in the sense of "imaginary.") I believe that this crosses us over from science into spirituality, and faith. Faith not in some inevitable golden age, but in our potential to get closer. "Progress is an infinite advance toward the infinitely receding goal of infinite perfection," says Follett in The New State. If that sentence does not capture the essence of the human journey, I don't know what does.

Albie M. Davis said:
Tom,

You are on to something here. Maybe the paradox of the bondage between "eds" and "ings." The ability of Follett to make me think twice about any "givens." I could write a whole book about her one line, "I always feel intimate with my enemies." (New State, 212)

I'm taking up way too much space on this forum, so after this, I'll take a vacation for a while, the one I urged Follett to take.

As a mediator and mediator trainer, I'm always on the lookout for pithy one-liners to get across a point. Yesterday in the Fox/Urwick edition, p. 282, I came across another Follett gem, which seems along the lines of your comment, "That which you pursue evades you . . . "

"Confidence cannot be forced."

Now, the last page of The New State, p. 360, gives us a sense of where she was heading as she finished off this book, while WWI was still being waged, I believe:

"This book is a plea for the more abundant life: for the fulness of life and the growing life. It is a plea against everything static, against the idea that there need be any passive material within the social bond. It is a plea for a splendid progress dependent upon every splendid one of us."

My personal thoughts? Although I think Follett's philosophy is timeless and universal in many ways, for better and worse, as an American, she is also "of our culture," and the "progress paradigm” can be a form of bondage.

I’m eager to hear what those not enamored with the concept of “progress” have to say.

Over and out for a month! Albie


Tom Let said:
I am reminded of the saying, That which you pursue evades you (and that which you evade pursues you). In that respect, I don't think that pursuing unity is as much of a bondage issue as it is a matter of wasted effort. In other words, you cannot go directly after unity in the same way that you cannot pursue love or friendship by going directly at them. It seems to me that in these cases one would have to first think of the necessary conditions that will have to be met in order to create a situation that is favorable to the creation of love, friendship, unity, or what have you. Take love, for instance. A person complaining about not having any love in his (her) life would be advised that the way to gain love is to follow the dictum that "the whole world loves a lover." In other words, pursue your interests, get involved wholeheartedly in life and love will follow.
That issue aside, Albie quotes Follett:
Never settle down within the theory you have chosen, the cause you have embraced; know that another theory, another cause exists, and seek that. The enhancement of life is not for the comfort-lover. As soon as you succeed--real success means something arising to overthrow your sercurity.

Emerson comes to mind with his "Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." However, I would like to bet that Follett, just like Emerson, had a world view that allowed for an Absolute as the background for it all. In that sense, all the flux in their lives--be it inconsistency or lack of adherence to this or that theory--had a secure foothold at the base of their lives.
Attachments:
For me there is little doubt that MPF had a fundamental process view of the world. Things happening, noun-verbs / active-nouns. This is consistent with her view of integration "of" things, rather than compromise "between" things. Things mutually participating as opposed to things in isolation.

A major draw for me is that as well as the management / organizational-behaviour interest - this process-based "monism" is very attractive metaphysically - integrative of so much on so many axes.

Zen and the Art hits very close to the target.
What I appreciate about MPF's work is that she describes so well, on a more theoretical level, what I experience in my practice working with groups on creative approaches to practical dilemmas.

So I was delighted to come across the above quote -- thank you Albie! -- as so far all I have read (several times over) is "The New State".

To me, what it points to, is an experience I have had repeatedly with groups... that whenever the group arrives at a concrete point of natural emergent convergence, THAT POINT ITSELF becomes the ground for the next step of divergence...

To take a very concrete and prosaic example... say we have all, through some process, come to realize that YES we want to stay on Ning... (before, we might have been contemplating a variety of possibilities, from staying, to migrating elsewhere, to creating our own platform, to whatever...)

then very naturally, we might find ourselves in a conversation about how much do we want to charge people, should it be flat fee, or sliding scale, or by donation... should it be just to cover the $199, or do we want to take in a bit more, and if so, what might we use it for... etc. etc. etc.

this process of every point of convergence, becoming a new departure point for divergence, is extremely "natural".... it just IS... to the degree that, in our work we find that from time to time, we need to introduce a "pause", to invite people to "look back" and celebrate, how far they have come...

because unless we do so, there will ALWAYS be, some "new" situation or challenge that needs addressing! Much like our daily lives...

when teaching our approach to creative work with groups, and explaining this point, I often ask folks... what would happen if you were to finish every item on your daily "to-do" list? would that mean you wouldn't have anything to do for the rest of the week? people usually laugh... there will ALWAYS be 'more to do'...

which to me signals, that what is important, is that we have a process in place, that allows us to truly and deeply ENJOY the process of "meeting" with one another...

because as i see it, she is absolutely right... it's an on-going thing! i.e., a continuous process...

with all best wishes,

Rosa
Rosa!

Brilliant! So like Follett who often plucked some ongoing process out of the air to make her point.

And your "to do" list made me laugh aloud, for I have teased myself and my children about wanting a tomb stone that had my last to do list on it with some things checked off, "groom the dog," "pay bills," and other's unchecked, perhaps, "Don't forget to reline the brakes!" or "Make a new will." Way to go!

THANK YOU! Albie Davis

Rosa Zubizarreta said:
What I appreciate about MPF's work is that she describes so well, on a more theoretical level, what I experience in my practice working with groups on creative approaches to practical dilemmas.

So I was delighted to come across the above quote -- thank you Albie! -- as so far all I have read (several times over) is "The New State".

To me, what it points to, is an experience I have had repeatedly with groups... that whenever the group arrives at a concrete point of natural emergent convergence, THAT POINT ITSELF becomes the ground for the next step of divergence...

To take a very concrete and prosaic example... say we have all, through some process, come to realize that YES we want to stay on Ning... (before, we might have been contemplating a variety of possibilities, from staying, to migrating elsewhere, to creating our own platform, to whatever...)

then very naturally, we might find ourselves in a conversation about how much do we want to charge people, should it be flat fee, or sliding scale, or by donation... should it be just to cover the $199, or do we want to take in a bit more, and if so, what might we use it for... etc. etc. etc.

this process of every point of convergence, becoming a new departure point for divergence, is extremely "natural".... it just IS... to the degree that, in our work we find that from time to time, we need to introduce a "pause", to invite people to "look back" and celebrate, how far they have come...

because unless we do so, there will ALWAYS be, some "new" situation or challenge that needs addressing! Much like our daily lives...

when teaching our approach to creative work with groups, and explaining this point, I often ask folks... what would happen if you were to finish every item on your daily "to-do" list? would that mean you wouldn't have anything to do for the rest of the week? people usually laugh... there will ALWAYS be 'more to do'...

which to me signals, that what is important, is that we have a process in place, that allows us to truly and deeply ENJOY the process of "meeting" with one another...

because as i see it, she is absolutely right... it's an on-going thing! i.e., a continuous process...

with all best wishes,

Rosa
Dear Albie, thank YOU for your response, and, for the initial "provocation" of your quote...

would love to connect with you further.

all best wishes,

Rosa
PS. I hope it is ok that I have quoted you in my recent blog post...
the link is

http://www.diapraxis.com/blog/entry/1124851

Verbials tend to be a better basis for guidance than nouns. Dynamism be the thing. The expectation of lock step conformity via "progressives" is as constrictive as versions applied elsewhere. There is a fundamental issue that tends to be papered over within most social science by positing conformity as the basis and goal for socialization and "function."  Within the more advanced thinkers relative to the social sciences, eg Hannah Arendt's "The Human Condition," Walter Davis "Inwardness and Existence," and Hyman Minsky and the functional/post Keynesianists who followed, the focus is more upon practices and capacities.

 

Tadit Anderson

This is based on her process philosophy (a la Whitehead)... all is in a constant state of dynamic co-creativity.
What about "mutual, reciprocal, submission and accountability?  Let's support each other at the attitude level and let the paradigm begin to develop.  What do you think?

Strange to be responding to a posting from 2010, I know. But I saw that Pauline Graham was on this list, so I thought I'd give it a try. I'm trying to find out if Creative Experience is still under copyright. I see that the excerpts in Prophet of Management do not say "by permission of..." Pauline, or anyone on this list, do you know?

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