The Mary Parker Follett Network

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

Do you have any real life examples of how you use her concepts in the office or at the shop?

I think her ideas will help me implement a project but I don't have a lot of time before due date.
I am basically interested in group based problem solving, collective creativeness, community based projects, and how to navigate thru bureaucratic and cultural barriers to achieve accelerated organizational goals.
The Power With vs. Power Over sounds intriguing but I am barely starting that essay in her collected papers.

Basically I need a bunch of folks to achieve extraordinary results in a short time and wish to use her concepts in a purposeful manner but I am new to her writing.

Someone please point me to some real life examples. Need practical result based stuff I can implement in various projects almost as a "toolbox" and was thinking maybe others have experience I can draw from.
Meanwhile, I am frantically reading in my free time!

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Hi Joe,

What an intriguing inquiry.  I can't help but wonder what your "situation" is; however, perhaps you're not in a position to reveal that, which I can understand.  Follett often speaks of the "law of the situation," which must be found anew in each situation. And, even after a group agrees on the guiding mission and any consequences that mission suggests, you all must be aware that the situation will keep on changing, as will all the players, both in how they are responding and even who if some leave and new ones join.  So, here's one piece of Follett advice.  "Don't hug your blueprints."  

Since you seem inclined to believe Follett could help you achieve your need to inspire "a bunch of folks to achieve extraordinary results in a short time" using her concepts in a purposeful manner, but you are new to her writing, how about starting with what draws you to her.  If her ideas drew you, perhaps sharing what you know will resonate with your team, which may be a fixed team already, or people you are going to recruit.  Just "lay your cards on the table," let them know you believe she has something to offer, and see if they can join you in an experiment to find out what ideas of hers are worth testing, and how they come out. 

If this sounds too risky in your situation, well. . . I happen to love Follett's use of stories and metaphors.  One just came to my mind about your "situation" as I have come to understand it, knowing nothing at all.  So, take this for what it's worth.

This is from Dynamic Administration, which was based upon her talks in the mid-1920s, Chapter XIII, "Leadership Theory and Practice," page 291-292.  (you can download this on our site under Follet Writings.)  She doesn't tell us what happened afterwards, which should provide enough adventure to make everyone excited!

One winter I went yachting with some friends in the inland waterways of the South. On one occasion our pilot led us astray and we found ourselves one night aground in a Carolina swamp. Obviously the only thing to do was to try to push the boat off, but the crew refused, saying that the swamps in that region were infested with rattlesnakes. The owner of the yacht offered not a word of remonstrance, but turned instantly and jumped overboard. Every member of the crew followed.

GOOD LUCK!  Albie Davis

Hi Joe, 

I am also new to Mary's work, but there are  several other writers also, who I suspect have been inspired by her work. I don't think there are any magic 'tools'  that can make the difference. I do believe there is a need to take time to build relationships first, or at least early in a project, before getting stuck into the tasks of the project.

There are no quick fixes or short-cuts.

As a teacher in China, I am a change agent, and the challenge is to shift students from  text-based, rote learning to student-centred, discovery and experiential learning. I am lucky enough to have autonomy in the class room, and have experimented with some different strategies. Two key things that really work: operating on the basis that we are all 'learners and teachers', and the process is multi-directional; the second is that in a team 'all members have equal power', and following Argyris and Senge, each member needs to be actively responsible in the communication process to lead/ follow/oppose / observe and reflect. 

I have made a few entries on this at

Happy to talk further, best wishes with the project!

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