The Mary Parker Follett Network

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

Attached to this forum is an electronic copy of "Freedom and Coordination" - a collection of Follett lectures first published in 1949.

A "cleaner" version is attached further down in the discussion.

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How cool, Matthew, to have Freedom and Coordination online! Thanks.

As you know, Mary Parker Follett and her longtime partner, Isobel Briggs, from Britain, had a home built for them in Putney, Vermont around 1896. Once around 1989, the current owner of "Overhills," as they called it, whose father had brought the home directly from Follett after Brigg's died, invited me into the house to look around. He showed me a sign, professionally printed, white with black letters and trim with the title, "The proper order of doing dishes," and below that the usual: First the glasses . . .and so forth. He said that Follett had left behind almost all of her possessions, including the sign, because it was too painful for her to stay after Isobel's death.

Freedom and Coordination is a compilation of six of her lectures, the first delivered in 1926, the year Brigg's died, and the other five in 1933 at the newly-formed Department of Busienss Administration at the London School of Economics. I didn't read F & C until 1990, so imagine my delight when I read on page 26, in the second chapter titled "The giving of orders:"

I know a lady who posted over the sink in her kitchen the proper sequence of dish washing. Her cook did not say what she felt about it, but a few days later she put her own feelings into the mouth of someone else by saying, " Mrs. Smith's cook came to see me yesterday and she said she wouldn't have that in her kitchen."

This instance throws some light, also, on what I have said of the advantage of the rules of the job being the outcome of joint study. If this lady had said to her cook and maids, " Let us think out the proper sequence of dish washing and then stick to it," all might have been well perhaps. There would have been nothing to resent if they had had a share in making the rules.


Seeing the sign in her Putney home and then reading her story about the sign in the kitchen in Freedom and Coordination "shed light," as she so often said, on the way she was the consumate observer of human relationships, drawing inspiration from all interactions among human beings.

It was delightful to be able to find the quote online, copy and paste it into this new network you've formed. I look forward to hearing from other fans of Follett.

Albie Davis
Attached is a "cleaner version" of Freedom and Coordination, courtesy of Bhavani Shankar. For purposes of citation, note that the pagination is different from the earlier document.
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