The Mary Parker Follett Network

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

Are there others with a particular interest in MPF's impact upon Japanese organizational strategies and thinking?

I think there's a pretty big loop to close there, so my immediate objective is to create a collection and have the work curated, with the best bits translated.

The research side is kinda hard to do if you don't read Japanese, but my guess is that there are more than a few Japanese experts on MPF who can
be invited to participate. Besides, it shouldn't be too hard to find Japanese students to do the research and send the information!

Plus, we can create frameworks for multi-lingual collaboration that allow those who don't speak the language to participate and it may be that someone has already done this work in the UK/Ireland or elsewhere.

Bit o' Backstory

The Project will live on one of my domains, probably Human Trigonometry, because that is the name I gave my evolving ideas on ADR several years ago.

When I spoke with Albie Davis about it, she immediately told me about MPF,--and well, there you go! I realized that my own work needed a firm grounding in MPF's prior work and then I learned that she was big in Japan, so it made it even more critical that I read what they thought, since Japanese thought has really influenced my own take on conflict management.

Agile/Lean are about conflict management first and foremost. They are a way of removing friction in the system. We often see these ideas pitched as coming from the "harmonious homogeneity of Japan," but Japan-hands know that it's a bit more complex than that.

To me, the connection to MPF's work is something that can NOT be overlooked because she straddled both worlds,--organizational behavior and conflict culture. There is no doubt in my mind that the Japanese thinkers combed through her work in exquisite detail. We need to recapture some of that thinking and make it accessible in other languages.

Ping Me!

Please ping me if you're interested or know of any work that's being done in this area!

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Hi Regina,

Great project/process. A few thoughts about MPF and Japan.

1. Pauline Graham (on our network), first introduced me to the interest of the Japanese in Follett's thinking. I just scanned three items I found in my MPF files, sent by Pauline years ago, which I will attach. Pauline's invited Tokihiko Enomoto to write a chapter in her book, Mary Parker Follett: Prophet of Management, Harvard Business School, (commentary p. 240.) You probably know this already! In 1990, Pauline opened her doors, files, pantry, mind and heart to me when I visited England on a research grant from the Ella Lyman Cabot Foundation. We are so lucky to have her on our network.

2. Japanese classmate. In a piece of correspondence from one of Mary's childhood friends, her friend notes how much Mary enjoyed Newnham College, especially one class which she took with only one other student, a young man from Japan. I have ALWAYS wondered who that was, because we know that Follett would have delighted in learning about his thoughts and she would have allowed them to influence her. I probably would be able to find the citation among my files, but today is not the day for that effort. The sun shines!

3. In Dynamic Administration (Metcalf & Urwick) on page 201-2 in the chapter on "The Psychology of Contro,l" a talk she gave in 1927, she gives the following illustration:

Besides the interest and significance of seeing our principle at work in the arts, I am also very much interested in the different degrees of sensitiveness to relations shown by different people. A biologist who had, among his assistants, a Japanese who made drawings for him said that a fish under the hand of this Japanese took on certain curves indicating movement, suggesting water. He did not seem to be able to draw a fish as the other young men did--just a fish.

I think this example shows her awareness of Japanese art AND philosophy, which made a HUGE impact on European and American artists in the mid 1800s and onward, and the way in which she integrated those Japanese lessons into her thinking, her wonderful abilities to see way beyond rigid academic analysis to something amazingly fluid.

I hope others join in this conversation, Regina, it could be VERY POWERFUL!

Hugs from Maine, Albie
Albie, you are AWESOME! Thanks!

This pamplett cover is from the Japanese Follett Foundation! My guess is they've already done 80% of the work we're talking about here! And, 1987 is not that long ago, so the materials should still be around!

The fish story is exactly why it's so important to get the Japanese take on MPF's work. Other folks knew of her work, but (at the risk of stereotyping), I think we have progressed by leaps and bounds due to the meticulous analysis and expansion of vision from Japan.

And, thanks for reminding me of the UK connection. I knew you had mentioned this to me before, but I couldn't recall the name of the person with the knowledge over there! I'm working on getting to the Agile Business conference this fall, which will give me the chance to do some of the research we spoke while ago!


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