The Mary Parker Follett Network

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

What is it about Mary Parker Follett's ideas and words that call you? Inspire you?

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let's make a couple of assumptions, and only as a pro-tem suggestion, awaiting further feed-forward, given the distribution of MPF's writing. First, that we review and discuss her material, both in generality and relative to various contexts. Second, that we discuss and review how the material written and advocated by other people relates to or extends MPF's general perspective. Third how we can teach and demonstrate the application of her perspective/model. There are probably other possibilities that deserve a constructive melding. next? Tadit
For me, it is a unique contribution of things that call me to Follett. She questions the very assumptions about human telations and democracy that continue to saddle us today - even some sacredly held images. Then there is her amazing insight into social and political process. Very important is that she inspires possibility and hope. There is the clarity, passion, and consistency of message she writes with. There is her transdisciplinary approach. There is her commitment to action, and the applicability of her insights to any kind of social experience. I'm sure I'm forgetting other things, but that's enough for now!
First I have to trust you, heh-heh.

Tadit Anderson said:
let's make a couple of assumptions, and only as a pro-tem suggestion, awaiting further feed-forward, given the distribution of MPF's writing. First, that we review and discuss her material, both in generality and relative to various contexts. Second, that we discuss and review how the material written and advocated by other people relates to or extends MPF's general perspective. Third how we can teach and demonstrate the application of her perspective/model. There are probably other possibilities that deserve a constructive melding. next? Tadit
Oh, I'm sorry. I did not make those assumptions but if that's the process then so be it. I just thought it might be useful to start with the "people in the room".

Tadit Anderson said:
let's make a couple of assumptions, and only as a pro-tem suggestion, awaiting further feed-forward, given the distribution of MPF's writing. First, that we review and discuss her material, both in generality and relative to various contexts. Second, that we discuss and review how the material written and advocated by other people relates to or extends MPF's general perspective. Third how we can teach and demonstrate the application of her perspective/model. There are probably other possibilities that deserve a constructive melding. next? Tadit
I think that's wise in any group setting :-)

Candee Basford said:
Oh, I'm sorry. I did not make those assumptions but if that's the process then so be it. I just thought it might be useful to start with the "people in the room".

Tadit Anderson said:
let's make a couple of assumptions, and only as a pro-tem suggestion, awaiting further feed-forward, given the distribution of MPF's writing. First, that we review and discuss her material, both in generality and relative to various contexts. Second, that we discuss and review how the material written and advocated by other people relates to or extends MPF's general perspective. Third how we can teach and demonstrate the application of her perspective/model. There are probably other possibilities that deserve a constructive melding. next? Tadit
Hi on this topic...I wrote something up and saved it to my Notepad. But I decided not to send it, and I wanted simply to acknowledge the stimulus I had received by the question supplied while honoring the natural reserve I think appropriate to a new social setting. I realize my choice of enigmatic expression may not be in full accord with the presumption of trust in sharing, but this topic hasn't otherwise given evidence of traction.
I find it somewhat humorous that a simple question like what Candee posted had drawn only one response that addresses it!
Hi Matthew & Candee it is worth questioning how we get traction on a new forum .. . process stuff such as suggested by Tadit is common sense ... But to address Candee's question directly, it is worth pointing out that, the question we were all asked to complete on our profile page when joining up was

"What brings you to Follett?"

My reply there was:

In a nutshell. 30 years Engineer & Manager. MBA 20 years ago. Organizational behaviour and culture. Hypocrisy in decision-making rationality. Excluded middles. Value in difference in dynamic relations. In a word - Wisdom.

MPF specifically, quite recently (2006) through Peter Drucker, Charles Handy & Tom Peters, and reading Pauline Graham's book. I suspect MPF was a giant, but “you have to believe in giants before you can stand on their shoulders”.

Urgency - as communication becomes ever more ubiquitous, poor understanding of "rational" decision-making in action is counter productive on a grand scale - global sustainability, etc.

This blog post introduces my interest in MPF.
http://www.psybertron.org/?p=1199
The practice of principle and concepts that other preach about, but rarely apply. It is the real deal in terms of the conduct of social science. One of the central tenets of sociology as it is conventionally taught is conformity. Capacities for anything else are rarely addressed except as deviations. In terms of practice ruling it is much the same as problem solving characteristic of the craftwork tradition in labor. Organizational theory except for a very few operate on the basis of political assumptions about authority and presumed celebrity. Her approach is also much like the mode used by Thich Nhat Hanh.

For me this approach is key to unraveling some major cultural impasses within corporatized reality. Cooperatives which should by their base principles be operating in a similar manner, often presume the structural defaults of the financialized paradigm. The funny thing here is that in the application of theory Y of Douglas MacGregor which has its similarities to the "science of cooperation," as per MPF, There is a story of a Korean war vet who was by the experience entirely convinced that command and control didn't really work. Somehow this person made into the executive ranks of Proctor and Gamble. He was able to commit P&G to establishing a new plant at Augusta, Georgia which was organized based upon this sort of paradigm. The plant was able to perform at a 30% higher productivity, than other P&G plants at that time. P&G transferred the process to their other plants but chose to treat it as a trade secret for 40 years, because it gave them such a strong advantage over their competitors. As an approach it is demonstrably superior, to the command and control ideology.
I like the banner quote of this network, "Unity, not uniformity, must be our aim". - MPF.

In the question, "What is it...", I find the assumption, that, from a number of statements replying to that question, something can be learned.

Why not make that assumption explicit? Here's a question that occurred to me yesterday:

Is there one thing we have in common, those who are attracted to this subject? What is the lowest common denominator of that interest? Whatever may be a chosen response to "What is it..." must be an aspect of some one thing. What is that one thing? It must be something that does not divide, it must not be something exclusive, because unity is what is sought, not intractable difference or mere multiplicity for it's own sake.

In other words, the question, "What is it about..." can be expressed in an impersonal form, and concluded like this: "...that calls out and inspires?" The difference is that this way the respondent is owning responsibility for generalizing on personal experience; not just submitting data to be interpreted by another/others in a non-explicit and non-transparent way, to be done--if at all--away from the group and separate from the expressed purpose of the topic, which is just to submit input, as in a survey. Of course, we all take from the discussion what others say. But the group process is not primarily about taking, it's about giving; without the proper emphasis group dynamics are stunted.

The implicit thesis of the original question--though I think nobody really believes this--is that there is just a multiplicity of facets of our subject, incapable of being reduced to unity either through an inability to sufficiently enter into sympathetic understanding with the subject, or due to the sheer impossibility of so doing.

There's a big difference between appreciation and worship. There's a quotation, to the effect that, to appreciate a work of art is to equal the achievement of the artist. Do we, as individuals, have the ability to develop our powers as she did? Can we go beyond her achievement? What was her life achievement? Oh, she accomplished a lot, but what career does it describe? Again, unity must be our aim.
Interesting, Jeff. I think it's important to note that assuming diversity is not the same as assuming dissensus. Furthermore, I also think it's important not to assume consensus, either. I think that beginning with the subjective - acknowledging that I am (each of us is) is a unique interpreter of Follett - and then seeing what others say, is a fruitful way to go. Perhaps there's an intersubjective commonality that emerges. In any event, it is interesting to seek commonality and difference at the same time.

As for reframing the question: the "guiding question," if you will, to this particular "Ning discussion box", was (to paraphrase): "what inspires you?" Now, if this were a structured democratic dialogue, we might want to adopt a guiding question by consensus, perhaps in consultation with a facilitator who has lots of experience in framing questions to fit the desires and needs of a given community of practice. But this particular discussion thread isn't that. It's more free-flow. It's more chaotic. It's...let's see what happens, and it's safe here.

Do you see what I wrote earlier here in this thread about "First I have to trust you?" The simple point I was gently trying to make it that there are emotional as well as intellectual qualities to discussions, no matter how "serious" the topic. The word "inspire" in the original question is powerful for me because it invites me emotionally. I can be intellectually inspired, but it means little to me if I'm not excited in my whole being. So maybe that relates to embracing subjectivity as a prelude to inter-subjectivity and beyond, or at least as a constant interactive piece of whatever's going on at the moment. I FEEL so, anyway. Now, I must go say my evening prayers to Follett...


Jeff Bedolla said:
I like the banner quote of this network, "Unity, not uniformity, must be our aim". - MPF.

In the question, "What is it...", I find the assumption, that, from a number of statements replying to that question, something can be learned.

Why not make that assumption explicit? Here's a question that occurred to me yesterday:

Is there one thing we have in common, those who are attracted to this subject? What is the lowest common denominator of that interest? Whatever may be a chosen response to "What is it..." must be an aspect of some one thing. What is that one thing? It must be something that does not divide, it must not be something exclusive, because unity is what is sought, not intractable difference or mere multiplicity for it's own sake.

In other words, the question, "What is it about..." can be expressed in an impersonal form, and concluded like this: "...that calls out and inspires?" The difference is that this way the respondent is owning responsibility for generalizing on personal experience; not just submitting data to be interpreted by another/others in a non-explicit and non-transparent way, to be done--if at all--away from the group and separate from the expressed purpose of the topic, which is just to submit input, as in a survey. Of course, we all take from the discussion what others say. But the group process is not primarily about taking, it's about giving; without the proper emphasis group dynamics are stunted.

The implicit thesis of the original question--though I think nobody really believes this--is that there is just a multiplicity of facets of our subject, incapable of being reduced to unity either through an inability to sufficiently enter into sympathetic understanding with the subject, or due to the sheer impossibility of so doing.

There's a big difference between appreciation and worship. There's a quotation, to the effect that, to appreciate a work of art is to equal the achievement of the artist. Do we, as individuals, have the ability to develop our powers as she did? Can we go beyond her achievement? What was her life achievement? Oh, she accomplished a lot, but what career does it describe? Again, unity must be our aim.
Jeff and all,

the mechanism of this utility is already constraining the nominal "open" nature of this context.

Let me suggest a different twist by way of MPF's resonance with Henri Bergson, that the unity be based upon the experiencing of everyday life both in our residential and work related communities. On the distinction between appreciation and worship, it seems that in MPF's universe there is little space for worship in the conventional sense. Further, worship is often a dynamic within institutionalization that applies a hierarchic mode which is more interested in preserving in organization in a material sense than in investing a ongoing reproduction of an organization through its integration with the demands of the situation and of integration.

Somewhere in here is an intersection with Douglas Rushkoff's core insights out of Life Inc, in effect that the values and structures characteristic of corporatism have invaded our daily lives to such an extent that there is virtually no concern for outcomes and results. In effect the problem "solving" of white collar corporate life is on the order of lifting citations from a policy manual, rather than the problem solving mode more characteristic of craftwork. Rushkoff's suggests that we have been shaped by a multi-century paradigm which is at the heart of the current economic collapse.

Whenever a transcontinental divide is supposed between emotional comforts and reason, somehow the outcome generally slips to a lower order of priority. Of what I have read of MPF's writings and lectures I have seen little in the way emotionalized comfort politics, except as the aspects and details of different world views might be understood and accepted. There is a level of discourse where it is supposed that emotional demonstrations are sometimes allowed to trump all other considerations. Comfort of this sort is typically based upon the familiarity of conventions and of privileged domains.

To simplify, perhaps simply asserting the priority of MPF's evolved science of cooperation, and of the priority of the practice and extensions of that cultural shaping is all that is required. In effect to walk her "talk."

Istvan Meszaros may seem distant from the concerns and priorities of MPF, but actually in his most recent book "The Challenge and Burden of Historical Time" features a divestment in mass political movements for the sake of social and cultural change, and strongly favors an a constructive micro cultural process very much like MPF's science of cooperation. Her sense of "economy" is much much closer to the original meaning of "economics" from its etymology, the management of home and community. Tadit

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