Quotes On Organizing and Management From Mary Parker Follett

I am convinced that any feeling of exaltation because we have people under us should be conquered, for I am sure that if we enjoy being over people, there will be something in our manner which will make them dislike being under us.

The manager cannot share his(/her) power with division superintendent or foreman or workman, but he(she) can give them opportunities for developing their power.

Unity, not uniformity, must be our aim. We attain unity only through variety. Differences must be integrated, not annihilated, not absorbed.

That is always our problem, not how to get control of people, but how all together we can get control of a situation.

There is no such thing as vicarious experience.

It is not opposition but indifference which separates men(people).

Imitation is for shirkers, like-minded-ness for the comfort lovers, unifying for the creators.

Leader and followers are both following the invisible leader-the common purpose.

The insight to see possible new paths, the courage to try them, the judgment to measure results-these are the qualities of a leader.

Most people are not for or against anything; the first object of getting people together is to make them respond somehow, to overcome inertia.

There are three ways of dealing with difference: domination, compromise, and integration. By domination only one side gets what it wants; by compromise neither side gets what it wants; by integration we find a way by which both sides may get what they wish.

Coercive power is the curse of the universe; coactive power, the enrichment and advancement of every human soul.

The unifying of opposites is the eternal process.

Experience may be hard but we claim its gifts because they are real, even though our feet bleed on its stones.

The essential feature of a common thought is not that it is held in common, but that it has been produced in common

Authority originates from coordination, coordination does not originate from authority.

All polishing is done by friction.

Mary Parker Follett (1868 to 1933) was an early advocate of resolving conflict by integrating interests. She captured her concepts on the relation of the individual to the group and the techniques necessary to bring about genuine democracy in The New State 1918 and Creative Experience (1924). In the mid-twenties she shifted her focus from the community group processes to the field of business. Business leaders sought her advice on how to mange their enterprises, and she became a featured speaker at national and international business administration conferences. In 1940 her talks before the business community were drawn together and published in an influential book Dynamic Administration. Some of her main themes in her own words appear below. From Albie Davis

1. Tap the potential of conflict. "As conflict, difference, is here in the world , as we cannot avoid it, we should, I think, use it. Instead of condemning it, we should set it to work for us. Why Not? What does the mechanical engineer do with friction? The transmission of power by belts depends upon friction between the belt and the pulley. The friction between the driving wheel and track is necessary to haul the train. All polishing is done by friction. The music of the violin we get by friction." (DA, pp 31-32)

2. Nurture the integrity of the individual. "We need a technique of human relations based upon the integrity of the individual. Of late years we have heard too much about the collective life as an aim in itself. But who cares about the collective life? What we care about is the productive life, and the first test of the productive power of the collective is its nourishment of the individual. The second test is whether the contributions of the individuals can be fruitfully united. " (CE, xiii)

3. Let the purpose evolve. "Last summer I noticed a strange plant in our pasture. I did not know what it was, I had no picture in my mind what flower or fruit it would bear, but I freed it. That is, I dug around it and opened the soil that the rain might all on its roots, I cleared out the thistles with which it was entangled, so that it might have room to spread, I cut down the undergrowth of small maples so that it could get the sun. In other words I simply freed it. Every friendship which is not treated in this way will surely suffer; no human relationship should serve an anticipatory purpose. Every relation should be a freeing relation with the "purpose" evolving. (CE, pp 82-83)

4. Consider the Limitation of "Facts." The question of democracy is often discussed on the assumption that we are obliged to choose between the beneficent rule of that beneficient despot, the "expert," and a muddled befogged 'people.' If the questionwas as simple as that, most of our troubles would be over; we should have to get enough Intelligence Bureaus at Washington, enough scientific management into the factories, enough specialists into the cities, enough formula from the agricultural colleges into the country, and all life would become fair and beautiful. For the people, it is assumed, will gladly agree to become automata when we show them all of the things -- nice solid objective things -- by abandoning their own experience in favor of a superior race of men called expects... We need experts, we need accurate information, but the object is not to do away with difference, but to do away with muddle. (CA, p6)

5. Remember that life is fluid, constantly changing, and continuously interactive. (Circular response) "My response is not to a crystallized product of the past, static for the moment of meeting; while I am behaving, the environment is changing because of my behaving, and my behavior is a response to the new situation, which I, in part, have created. A professor of philosophy once told me that it made him dizzy to talk with me because, he says, he wishes always to compare varying thing with something stationary. (CE, p. 63, p. 69)

6. Look for an integration of interests. "There are three main ways of dealing with conflict: domination, compromise, and integration. Domination, obviously, is a victory of one side over the other. This is the easiest way to deal with conflict, the easiest for the moment, but not usually successful in the long run... The second way of dealing with conflict, that of compromise, we understand well for it is the way that we settle most of our controversies; each side gives up a little in order to have peace. Is there any other method of ending conflict? There is a waybeginning now to be recognized at least, and even occasionally followed: when two desires are integrated, that means that a solution has been found in which both desires have found a place, and that neither side has had to sacrifice anything. Let us take a very simple illustration. In the Harvard Library one day, in one of the smaller rooms, someone wanted the window open, I wanted it shut. We opened the window in the next room where no one was sitting. This was not a compromise because there was no curtailing of desire; We both got what we really wanted. (CE, p32)

7. Break up wholes, make whole the parts. "A friend of mine wanted to go to Europe, but she also did not want to spend the money that it would cost... What did 'going to Europe" symbolize for her? A sea voyage, seeing beautiful places, meeting new people, a rest of changes from daily duties? "Going to Europe" was for her a symbol not of snow mountains, or cathedrals, or of pictures, but of meeting people -- that is what she wanted. When she was asked to teach in a summer school of young men and women where she would meet a rather interesting staff of teachers, and a rather interesting group of students, she immediately accepted. This was her integration... The highest lights in a situation are not always those which are the most indicative of the real issues involved... To find the significant rather than the dramatic of an industrial controversey, of a disagreement in regard to policy on a board of directors, or between managers, is essential to integrative business policies, (DA, pp41-42) We have been considering breaking up the whole demand. On the other hand, one often has to do just the opposite; find the whole demand, the real demand, which is being obscured by misscelaneous minor claims or ineffective presentation. (DA, 43)

8. Learn to Grow"Power-With. "No word is used more carelessly by us all than the word 'power." I know no conception that needs today more careful analysis. We have not even decided whether "power" is a good word or a bad word. Is the wish for power the desire of grasping and unscrupulous people, is it the instinct urge of our lower natures; or is power a noble, the nobelest aim. Or is it neither of these? What is power? (DA, p.67) So far as my observation has gone, it seems to me that power usually means power over, the power of some person or grop over some other person or group, it is possible to develop a conception of power with, a jointly developed power, a coactive power, not a coercive power....Genuine power can only be grown, otherwise it will slip from every arbitrary hand that tries to grasp it. (DS, p.72)

9. Celebrate the value of diversity. "What people often mean by getting rid of conflict is getting rid of diversity, and it is of the utmost importance that these not be considered the same. We may wish to abolish conflict, but we cannot get rid of diversity. We must face life as it is and understand that diversity is its most essential feature... Fear of difference is fear of life itself. It is possible to conceive conflict as not necessarily a wasteful outbreak of incompatibilities, but a normal process by which socially valuable differences for enrichment of all concerned. (CE. p.300)

10. Experiment ! "I have been interested to watch how often disagreement disappears when theorizing ends and the question is of some definite activity to be undertaken. ...To put this still another way: integration, the resolution of conflict, the harmonizing of differences must take place on the motor level, not on the intellectual level. We cannot get genuine agreement by mere discussion in conference. As our responses are governed by past habits and what has been incorporated in the organism, the only way of getting other responses is by getting other responses incorporated into the organism. (CE. p.150) Experience may be hard, but we claim its gifts because they are real, even though our feet bleed on its stones." (CE. p.302)

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