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Mary Parker Follett

"Unity, not uniformity, must be our aim. We attain unity only through variety. Differences must be integrated, not annihilated, nor absorbed."

Mary Parker Follett, The New State (1918)

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"The ignoring of differences is the most fatal mistake in politics or industry or international life: every difference that is swept up into a bigger conception feeds and enriches society; every difference which is ignored feeds on society and eventually corrupts it."

Mary Parker Follett, The New State (1918)

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"Give your difference, welcome my difference, unify all difference in the larger whole -- such is the law of growth. The unifying of difference is the eternal process of life -- the creative synthesis, the highest act of creation, the at-onement."

Mary Parker Follett, The New State (1918)

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"The method of moral hygiene as of physical hygiene is social coöperation. We do not walk into the Kingdom of Heaven one by one."

Mary Parker Follett, The New State (1918)

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"Crowd action is the outcome of agreement based on concurrence of emotion rather than of thought ..."

Mary Parker Follett, The New State (1918)

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"In crowds we have unison, in groups harmony. We want the single voice but not the single note; that is the secret of the group."

Mary Parker Follett, The New State (1918)

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"Democracy must be conceived as a process, not a goal."

Mary Parker Follett, The New State (1918)

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"... a fatal defect in majority rule is that by its very nature it abolishes itself. Majority rule must inevitably become minority rule: the majority is too big to handle itself; it organizes itself into committees ... which in their turn resolve themselves into a committee of one ... "

Mary Parker Follett, The New State (1918)

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"The state accumulates moral power only through the spiritual activity of their citizens."

Mary Parker Follett, The New State (1918)

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"It is not opposition but indifference which separates men."

Mary Parker Follett, The New State (1918)

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"We have thought of peace as a letting go and war as a girding up. We have thought of peace as the passive and war as the active way of living. The opposite is true. War is not the most strenuous life. It is a kind of rest-cure compared to the task of reconciling our differences."

Mary Parker Follett, The New State (1918)

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"I am free when I am functioning here in time and space as the creative will. ... freedom by our definition is obedience to the law of one's nature."

Mary Parker Follett, The New State (1918)

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"We must remember that most people are not for or against anything; the first object of getting people together is to make them respond somehow, to overcome inertia. To disagree, as well as to agree, with people brings you closer to them. I always feel intimate with my enemies."

Mary Parker Follett, The New State (1918)

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"The question of democracy is often discussed on the assumption that we are obliged to choose between the rule of that modern beneficent despot, the expert, and a muddled, befogged 'people.' If the question were as simple as that, most of our troubles would be over; we should have only to get enough Intelligence Bureaus at Washington, enough scientific management into the factories, enough specialists (on hygiene, transportation, etc.) into the cities, enough formulae 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 the things -- nice, solid, objective things -- they can have by abandoning their own experience in favor of a superior race of men called experts. "

Mary Parker Follett, Creative Experience (1924)

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"... it is of equal importance with the discovery of facts to know what to do with them ... "

Mary Parker Follett, Creative Experience (1924)

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"... a little of the ready reliance on the expert comes from the desire to waive responsibillity, comes from the endless evasion of life instead of an honest facing of it. The expert is to many what the priest is, someone who knows absolutely and can tell us what to do. The king, the priest, the expert, have one after the other had our allegiance, but so far as we put any of them in the place of ourselves, we have not a sound society and neither individual nor general progress."

Mary Parker Follett, Creative Experience (1924)

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"... I wish we could understand the word expert as expressing an attitude of mind which we can all acquire rather than the collecting of information by a special caste. ... Many of us are calling for experts because, acutely conscious of the mess we are in, we want someone to pull us out."

Mary Parker Follett, Creative Experience (1924)

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"... good intentions are not sufficient to solve our problems."

Mary Parker Follett, Creative Experience (1924)

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

Mary Parker Follett, Creative Experience (1924)

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"... there is a pernicious tendency to make the opinions of the expert prevail by crowd methods, to rush the people instead of educating them."

Mary Parker Follett, Creative Experience (1924)

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"There is no such thing as vicarious experience."

Mary Parker Follett, Creative Experience (1924)

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"We can never catch up with life ... we shall always be eating the soft part of our melting ice and meanwhile the nice hard part is rapidly melting too."

Mary Parker Follett, Creative Experience (1924)

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" ... administrative purpose usually outruns the facts. Indeed the administrative official's ardor for facts usually begins when he wants to change the facts!"

Mary Parker Follett, Creative Experience (1924)

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"The divorce of our so-called spiritual life from our daily activities is a fatal dualism. "

Mary Parker Follett, Creative Experience (1924)

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

Mary Parker Follett, Creative Experience (1924)

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"... fear of difference is fear of life itself."

Mary Parker Follett, Creative Experience (1924)

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" We must face life as it is and understand that diversity is its most essential feature."

Mary Parker Follett, Creative Experience (1924)

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" Law should seek far more than mere reconciliation; it should be one of the great creative forces of our social life."

Mary Parker Follett, Creative Experience (1924)

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"... genuine power is power-with, pseudo power, power-over."

Mary Parker Follett, Creative Experience (1924)

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"Power-over is resorted to time without number because people will not wait for the slower process of education."

Mary Parker Follett, Creative Experience (1924)

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"... we certainly do not want to abolish power, that would be abolishing life itself, but we need a new orientation toward it."

Mary Parker Follett, Creative Experience (1924)

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"The conflict of chemistry we do not think reprehensible. If we could look at social conflict as neither good nor bad, but simply a fact, we should make great strides in our thinking."

Mary Parker Follett, Creative Experience (1924)

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"What people often mean by getting rid of conflict is getting rid of diversity, and it is of the utmost importance that these should not be considered the same."

Mary Parker Follett, Creative Experience (1924)

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"It is possible to conceive conflict as not necessarily a wasteful outbreak of incompatibilities, but a normal process by which socially valuable differences register themselves for the enrichment of all concerned."

Mary Parker Follett, Creative Experience (1924)

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"One of the greatest values of controversy is its revealing nature. The real issues at stake come into the open and have the possibility of being reconciled."

Mary Parker Follett, Creative Experience (1924)

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"In the small group then is where we shall find the inner meaning of democracy, its very heart and core."

Mary Parker Follett, Creative Experience (1924)

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"There is too great a tendency (perhaps encouraged by popular journalism) to deal with the dramatic moments, forgetting that these are not always the most significant moments. ... To find the significant rather than the dramatic features of industrial controversy, of a disagreement in regard to policy on board of directors or between managers, is essential to integrative business policies."

Mary Parker Follett, in Henry C. Metcalf and L. Urwick, eds., Dynamic Administration: The Collected Papers of Mary Parker Follett (1941)

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"We can confer authority; but power or capacity, no man can give or take. The manager cannot share his power with division superintendent or foreman or workmen, but he can give them opportunities for developing their power. Functions may have to be redistributed; something the manager does now had better perhaps be left to a division superintendent, to a foreman, even to a workman; but that is a different matter; let us not confuse the two things. Indeed, one of the aims of that very redistribution of function should be how it can serve to evolve more power -- more power to turn the wheels. More power, not division of power, should always be our aim ... "

Mary Parker Follett, in Henry C. Metcalf and L. Urwick, eds., Dynamic Administration: The Collected Papers of Mary Parker Follett (1941)

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"... if you wish to train yourself for higher executive positions, the first thing for you to decide is what you are training for. Ability to dominate or manipulate others? That ought to be easy enough, since most of the magazines advertise sure ways of developing something they call 'personality.' But I am convinced that the first essential of business success is the capacity for organized thinking."

Mary Parker Follett, in Henry C. Metcalf and L. Urwick, eds., Dynamic Administration: The Collected Papers of Mary Parker Follett (1941)

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"Now that we are recognizing more fully the value of the individual, now that management is defining more exactly the function of each, many are coming to regard the leader as the man who can energize his group, who knows how to encourage initiative, how to draw from all what each has to give."

Mary Parker Follett, in Henry C. Metcalf and L. Urwick, eds., Dynamic Administration: The Collected Papers of Mary Parker Follett (1941)

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"Responsiblity is the great developer of men."

Mary Parker Follett, in Henry C. Metcalf and L. Urwick, eds., Dynamic Administration: The Collected Papers of Mary Parker Follett (1941)

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" ... we should think not only of what the leader does to the group, but also of what the group does to the leader."

Mary Parker Follett, in Henry C. Metcalf and L. Urwick, eds., Dynamic Administration: The Collected Papers of Mary Parker Follett (1941)

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" Another idea that is changing is that the leader must be one who can make quick decisions. The leader to-day is often one who thinks out his decisions very slowly."

Mary Parker Follett, in Henry C. Metcalf and L. Urwick, eds., Dynamic Administration: The Collected Papers of Mary Parker Follett (1941)

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"... while the executive should give every possible value to the information of the specialist, no executive should abdicate thinking on any subject because of the expert. The expert's information or opinion should not be allowed automatically to become a decision. On the other hand, full recognition should be given to the part the expert plays in decision making."

Mary Parker Follett, in Henry C. Metcalf and L. Urwick, eds., Dynamic Administration: The Collected Papers of Mary Parker Follett (1941)

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" The best leader does not ask people to serve him, but the common end. The best leader has not followers, but men and women working with him."

Mary Parker Follett, in Henry C. Metcalf and L. Urwick, eds., Dynamic Administration: The Collected Papers of Mary Parker Follett (1941)

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"We no longer think that the best leader is the greatest hustler or the most persuasive orator or even the best trader. The great leader is he who is able to integrate the experience of all and use it for a common purpose."

Mary Parker Follett, in Henry C. Metcalf and L. Urwick, eds., Dynamic Administration: The Collected Papers of Mary Parker Follett (1941)

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"... the leader releases energy, unites energies, and all with the object not only of carrying out a purpose, but of creating further and larger purposes. And I do not mean here by larger purposes mergers or more branches; I speak of larger in the qualitative rather than the quantitative sense. I mean purposes which will include more of those fundamental values for which most of us agree we are really living."

Mary Parker Follett, in Henry C. Metcalf and L. Urwick, eds., Dynamic Administration: The Collected Papers of Mary Parker Follett (1941)

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"While leadership depends on depth of conviction and the power coming therefrom, there must also be the ability to share that conviction with others."

Mary Parker Follett, in Henry C. Metcalf and L. Urwick, eds., Dynamic Administration: The Collected Papers of Mary Parker Follett (1941)

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"Part of the task of the leader is to make others participate in his leadership. The best leader knows how to make his followers actually feel power themselves, not merely acknowledge his power."

Mary Parker Follett, in Henry C. Metcalf and L. Urwick, eds., Dynamic Administration: The Collected Papers of Mary Parker Follett (1941)

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"... the most successful leader of all is one who sees another picture not yet actualized."

Mary Parker Follett, in Henry C. Metcalf and L. Urwick, eds., Dynamic Administration: The Collected Papers of Mary Parker Follett (1941)

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"It is always the sign of the second-rate man when the decision merely meets the present situation. It is the left-over in a decision which gives it its greatest value. It is the carry-over in the decision which helps develop the situation in the way we wish it to be developed. The ablest administrators do not merely draw logical conclusions from the array of facts of the past which their expert assistants bring to them; they have a vision of the future."

Mary Parker Follett, in Henry C. Metcalf and L. Urwick, eds., Dynamic Administration: The Collected Papers of Mary Parker Follett (1941)

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"The foreman today does not merely deal with trouble, he forestalls trouble. In fact, we don't think much of a foreman who is always dealing with trouble; we feel that if he is doing his job properly, there won't be so much trouble."

Mary Parker Follett, in Henry C. Metcalf and L. Urwick, eds., Dynamic Administration: The Collected Papers of Mary Parker Follett (1941)

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"I do not think that we have psychological and ethical and economic problems. We have human problems, with psychological, ethical and economical aspects, and as many others as you like."

Mary Parker Follett, in Henry C. Metcalf and L. Urwick, eds., Dynamic Administration: The Collected Papers of Mary Parker Follett (1941)

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"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."

Mary Parker Follett, in Henry C. Metcalf and L. Urwick, eds., Dynamic Administration: The Collected Papers of Mary Parker Follett (1941)

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

Mary Parker Follett, in L. Urwick, ed., Freedom and Co-ordination: Lectures in Business Organisation (1949)

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"... the point of educating instead of blaming seems to me very important. For nothing stultifies one more than being blamed. Moreover, if the question is, who is to blame?, perhaps each will want to place the blame on someone else, or on the other hand, someone may try to shield his fellow-worker. In either case the attempt is to hide the error and if this is done the error cannot be corrected."

Mary Parker Follett, in L. Urwick, ed., Freedom and Co-ordination: Lectures in Business Organisation (1949)

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"An order then should always be given not as a personal matter, not because the man giving it wants the thing done, but because it is the demand of the situation. And an order of this kind carries weight because it is the demand of the situation."

Mary Parker Follett, in L. Urwick, ed., Freedom and Co-ordination: Lectures in Business Organisation (1949)

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"... many rules could be made for the giving of orders. Don't preach when you give orders. Don't discuss matters already settled unless you have fresh data. Make your direction so specific that there will be no question whether they have been obeyed or not. Find out how to give directions and yet to allow people opportunity for independent thinking, for initiative. And so on and so on. Order-giving requires just as much study and just as much training as any other skill we wish to acquire."

Mary Parker Follett, in L. Urwick, ed., Freedom and Co-ordination: Lectures in Business Organisation (1949)

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"... orders come from the work, not work from the orders."

Mary Parker Follett, in L. Urwick, ed., Freedom and Co-ordination: Lectures in Business Organisation (1949)

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"Conflict is resolved not through compromise, but through invention."

Mary Parker Follett, in L. Urwick, ed., Freedom and Co-ordination: Lectures in Business Organisation (1949)

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"No one has a greater asset for his business than a man's pride in his work."

Mary Parker Follett, in L. Urwick, ed., Freedom and Co-ordination: Lectures in Business Organisation (1949)

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"We often tend to think that the executive wishes to maintain standard, wishes to reach a certain quality of production, and that the worker has to be goaded in some way to do this. Again and again we forget that the worker is often, usually I think, equally interested, that his greatest pleasure in his work comes from the satisfaction of worthwhile accomplishment, of having done the best of which he was capable."

Mary Parker Follett, in L. Urwick, ed., Freedom and Co-ordination: Lectures in Business Organisation (1949)

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"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."

Mary Parker Follett, in L. Urwick, ed., Freedom and Co-ordination: Lectures in Business Organisation (1949)

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"The leader is one who can organize the experience of the group ... and thus get the full power of the group. The leader makes the team. This is pre-eminently the leadership quality -- the ability to organize all the forces there are in an enterprise and make them serve a common purpose."

Mary Parker Follett, in L. Urwick, ed., Freedom and Co-ordination: Lectures in Business Organisation (1949)

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"When leadership rises to genius it has the power of transforming, of transforming experience into power. And that is what experience is for, to be made into power. The great leader creates as well as directs power."

Mary Parker Follett, in L. Urwick, ed., Freedom and Co-ordination: Lectures in Business Organisation (1949)

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"The leader should have the spirit of adventure, but the spirit of adventure need not mean the temperament of the gambler. It should be the pioneer spirit which blazes new trails. The insight to see possible new paths, the courage to try them, the judgment to measure results -- these are the qualifications of the leader."

Mary Parker Follett, in L. Urwick, ed., Freedom and Co-ordination: Lectures in Business Organisation (1949)

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"Leader and followers are both following the invisible leader -- the common purpose. The best executives put this common purpose clearly before their group. While leadership depends on depth of conviction and the power coming therefrom there must also be the ability to share that conviction with others, the ability to make purpose articulate. And then that common purpose becomes the leader."

Mary Parker Follett, in L. Urwick, ed., Freedom and Co-ordination: Lectures in Business Organisation (1949)

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" ... the best leaders try to train their followers themselves to become leaders. ... they wish to be leaders of leaders."

Mary Parker Follett, in L. Urwick, ed., Freedom and Co-ordination: Lectures in Business Organisation (1949)

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"The ablest administrators do not merely draw logical conclusions from the array of facts of the past which their expert assistants bring to them, they have a vision of the future."

Mary Parker Follett, in L. Urwick, ed., Freedom and Co-ordination: Lectures in Business Organisation (1949)

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Mary Parker Follett, U.S. political scientist, sociologist, management theorist
(1868 - 1933)

Follett was quite a woman — a pioneer in organizational theory and organizational behavior. Her writings are still inspiring today.