Wonderful news about your thesis, Groutel. I have lots of materials about Follett, the people connected to her and the Zeitgeist of her time. Let me know if I can be helpful. I wrote an article titled "Liquid Leadership: The Wisdom of Mary Parker Follett," in 1996, which I could send as an attachment to your email, if you wish. My email is: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for checking in with me so soon. My first AND ONLY language is English. So, if I could speak French as well as you speak English I would be very happy! But, we won't let that stop us from communicating, and from clearing up any misunderstandings that occur in the process.
You know, in America, we steal every word that is useful. The word "evanescent" sounds so perfect. Whatever it's full meaning, it just is musical to the ear. I looked it up on google, and we have already lifted it!
Follett who often cautioned us not to be static, would like such concepts as liquid or gaseous. But evanescent has an uplifting sound, while gaseous, instead of feeling "light" sounds "heavy."
You have spoken to 80 general managers already about Follett. This is magnificent. When you are in the USA, please check in with me to see the status of where I am living. We have put our wonderful, spacious home on the market, so I may be living elsewhere, but if we are still here, we have plenty of room for guests if you can find your way up to Maine.
If you have something in French that you want to send to me, I will use reading it as an opportunity to learn some French. And, if there is anything you are looking for, please ask, as I might just have some information about it.
Cher Emmanuel Croutel
I am so sorry not to have responded earlier to your email of 19 July.
I am delighted you are writing the first thesis on Follett in France. Do you know that there is a very devoted Follett fan in Paris, Marc Mousli? He has written very interesting articles on her and I think also a book.
If you haven't come across his work, you may like to refer to:
Futurs d'antan - Le management selon Mary Parker Follett - soixante-dix ans d'avance (a ce jour...) (Futuribles Mai 1996- Numero 209)
Mary Parker Follett -l'anti-Taylor. On redecouvre les enseignements de Mary Parker Follett sur le management. Marques par un profond respect de l'individu, ils n'ont pas pris une ride (Alternatives Economiques - No 206 Septembre 2002).
Il y a aussi un article par Pascale-Marie Deschamps
Mary Parker Follett - Pionniere du management - Alors que Taylor et Ford forgent le modele productif occidental, une femme en prend le contrepied. Engagee sur le terrain social, cette intellectuelle americaine defend l'individu, la creativite, le travail de groupe. Une voix etonnamment actuelle ( Enjeux Septembre 2002).
At the end of this article, there is a piece by Henry Minzberg 'Si les industriels l'avaient ecoutee...'. Minzberg is, as you know, a great admirer of Follett and I am sure he would be delighted to respond to your views. At that date - Septembre 2002 - he was professeur de strategie a l'university McGill, Montreal.
If you give me your physical address, I'll send you a copy of my first book on Follett - Dynamic Managing - the Follett Way. It's rather jejune but, for me, it holds a special place in my affections, for a Japanese professor translated it into Japanese and used it as a basic management text-book for his students - something he confessed some 10 years later.
Now to come to your use of words. Liquid leadership is an expression coined I think by our dear Albie (she writes beautifully) and I am not surprised that she loves 'evanescent leadership'. Well, I don't. Follett was a very conscientious wordsmith and she laboured hard to find the right words to clearly express her thought. I agree that evanescent is musical and nostalgic and magical and lyrical but it does not convey Follett's views on leadership. Just to make sure,I looked the meaning in the dictionary - fleeting, vanishing, fading away from vanescere 'to vanish' and vanus 'empty'.
What exactly do you mean by Follett's 'evanescent leadership'? (to me the adjective brings to mind Proust who could indeed capture in all their fullness the most evanescent feeling, mood or emotion). Follett was talking and writing to managers and was robust in her use of words.
Here are a few of her statements on leadership which I like:'Leadership is sometimes in one place, sometimes in another'. 'The essentials of leadership:
the ability to grasp a total situation: facts, present ad potential, aims ad purposes, and men. The leader must see a whole. He mus see the relation between all the different factors in a situation'. 'The best leaders train their followers to become leaders'. 'The great leader wants to be a leader of leaders.'
(all culled from Freedom and Coordination).
I must sound like a very irate blue stocking. But them are my feelings at the moment - and evanescent they are!
Merci de votre invitation de venir vous voir en Normandie. Je la reciproque chaleureusement: je serais heureuse de vous voir a Londres, si vous venez par ces parages.
Bien a vous
I am a sucker for a musical sounding word--sensation over good sense--and given the way the meanings of words change over time, perhaps we can hijack 'evanescent leadership' and infuse it with meaning. I want to hear what Emmanuel has to say on this topic. (Hello Emmanuel!)
But, I am teasing here, Pauline. It is so wonderful to hear your wise and witty voice. I am thrilled! You are without a doubt the most exotic blue stocking I have ever met. I do believe that your Egyptian/French and English roots have all combined to make you one very exceptional and exciting woman!
With affection, Albie
In my own unwritten thinking about Follett's gifts, I always thought she deserved a special chapter about her interest in what we might call semantics.
We could argue (which apparently Follett enjoyed doing) about whether words used in factfinding can be stripped of emotion, which she suggests in Creative Experience (p 23), but no getting around it, she found words fascinating and was incredibly good at detecting when changing a word to a better (or different one) could amount to a breakthrough in creative thinking.
Often I enjoy Follett most when she corrects herself midstream and changes one of her own word choices to one which more accurately describes what she is after. Her transparency in doing so is a form of leadership for me. It's okay to struggle to find the right word. It's not only okay, but it's productive. So it in in that spirit that I am thoroughly enjoying your dialogue with Emmanuel!
And just to stir up the pot, what the heck do you think Follett meant when she said, "'The great leader wants to be a leader of leaders." This seems so contrary to her spirit as I see it!
A very quick response, because I am finally in my studio painting, and must keep up my momentum.
What first came to my mind about your question to pose to Henry Mintzberg, “Do you think Mary Follett was too optimistic?” was something she said in her talk on constructive conflict that was included in Dynamic Administration.
Some people tell me that they like what I have written on integration, but say that I am talking of what ought to be instead of what is. But indeed I am not; I am talking neither of what is, to any great extent, nor of what ought to be merely, but of what perhaps may be. This we can discover only by experiment. (page 34, Metcalf & Urwick edition)
Personally, I think her "perhaps what might be" approach toward what she is saying allows her to "rise above" short term "success" into the realm of permanent and evolving experimentation. What's a century or two in the history of the human race?
I would be very interested to hear what others have to say about your question. By the way, I always loved what Eduard Lindeman said about how reading the New State gave him "new direction and new hope" during a difficult time (WWI), although after reading Joan Tonn's account of their dust up of later days, maybe I should have focused upon what followed next, "to researches already partially conceived."
HelloEmmanuel,Iam pleasedto meet you.I hope towrite the secondFrenchthesis[ ;-)].Currently,I have onlyidentifiedabout me: I moved to Sebastianfirstresearch questionthat needs to bereworked::"Whatthe contribution ofMary ParkerFollettmakesitto the leaders ofassociations/social sector organizationsand medico-socialto meet thechallengesof organizational performance"Sébastienholdsmy questionthemesof social work,leadership, organizational performance and of course,the contributionof the workofMPF...I redirectedmy thesisthere are twomonths away.Ioriginallywanted todo a dissertationonthe question of meaningin the management ofsocial organizations...but Igot lostnot.Mary ParkerFollettechoesmy careeras a social worker,a managerinvarious social institutionsandmedical and social.I hope I haveadvancedin myreading,to feedin Septembertoexchangewith you.See you soon
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