The Mary Parker Follett Network

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

MPF and contemporary non-linear facilitation practices...

A while ago, I wrote a blog post on my website, inspired by a MPF quote that Albie had posted here...

Recently, as I was editing the post a bit for the purpose of greater clarity, I realized that some of what I'd written may be of interest to some folks here.

Here are a few paragraphs from the opening:

One of things that is most central to me about the practice of DF, is something I’ve called the "principled refusal to 'manage' convergence". As I see it, this means that the facilitator maintains a continuous stance of welcoming divergence, so that whenever common ground emerges, is as free as possible from groupthink or peer pressure. One of the reasons for this, is that we see over and over again how this kind of agreement is much more "solid" -- that is to say, accompanied by much greater enthusiasm and consistent follow-through -- than when we have a more "fabricated" kind of agreement.

At the same time, it can be helpful to look more closely at the nature of this “common ground” that emerges. Even when we know that shared understanding has been reached freely and without coercion – how "solid" can something really be, given this ever-changing world of ours?

Along these lines, on the Ning site for Mary Parker Follett, a turn-of-the century visionary whom Peter Drucker has called the “prophet of modern management”, professor Albie Davis recently wrote:

"Did Follett's thoughts on unity continue to evolve, as did much of her thinking? I've just been rereading the talk she gave in early 1933 (she died in Boston in December of that year) to the newly formed Department of Business Administration at the London School of Economics under the collective title of ‘The Problem of Organisation and Co-ordination in Business’. I'm reading from ‘Freedom and Coordination’ originally published in 1949. Page 76. In 1933, in London, Follett is saying:

‘The most important thing to remember about unity is -- that there is no such thing. There is only unifying. You cannot get unity and expect it to last a day--or five minutes.’

Now, some of us may well be wondering -- why would we ever want something that won’t last a day, or even five minutes?


and here are the closing paragraphs:

When we frame our work in a way that allows us to continually welcome dissenting perspectives and create openings for divergence, then we can indeed be sure that whatever convergences emerge, whatever agreements are arrived at, are truly "rock solid"....

"Rock solid"... for now! For even when everyone is "on board", fully and enthusiastically, life happens. The environment changes, new situations unfold, and we find ourselves, sooner or later, “back to the drawing board”...

At which point, we are best-served if we have developed an ongoing practice that allows us to truly enjoy the deeply creative process of "meeting" one another, in the ever-unfolding and spontaneously emerging rhythm of diverging… converging… diverging…

the link to the whole post is:

Since I last edited it, I've realized that what I wrote may be more oriented toward facilitators than to potential facilitation clients. As I've been attempting to keep a balance between those two orientations on my website, I placed my blog on "hide"... However, I thought it might be of interest to some of you here, so hence this post! I'd be interested in hearing any of your thoughts in response....

Views: 28

Comment by Tadit Anderson on April 23, 2011 at 3:56pm

Rosa, I would like to see the full article.   I am favoring a sort of lucid dreaming by which people can explore their way into establishing progressive management and mediation as a familiar loca .

comments on the youtube video are welcome.


Comment by Rosa Zubizarreta on August 11, 2011 at 7:55pm

Tadit, thank you for your comment. The full article is at the link above.
Also, thank you for the link to the youtube video. i agree that it's helpful when people can trust one another enough to not have to micromanage everything, and the decisions can be made by the folks who are closest to the actual work. At the same time, it can be helpful to have conversations where people get to develop a perspective of the larger whole, and what that whole looks like from other vantage points, as well...


best wishes to you!


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