Peter Drucker called her the 'prophet of management' and 'my guru'. Mary Parker Follett (1868-1933), also had some refreshing points to make about teaching as leading in 'The teacher-student relation', in an address at Boston university, 1928, and published in Administrative Science Quarterly 15 (1) 1970, pp.137-148.
She reminds us that the teacher 'releases energy, frees potentialities,'but within method, within the laws of group activity and group control.'
The teacher's role in the social sciences is to teach students to become 'experience-conscious'; to see the meaning of the experience, and to organise that experience. To integrate knowledge with experience is to create power of control, so that students may 'perhaps create new meanings.' The aim is to increase the students' 'ability to live not only harmoniously but effectively' with others.
'All that lives grows. What we give our students, if it is alive, may easily grow out of our recognition.' She acknowledges that we are preparing our students to deal with a future that will be so different from the past, yet we use old language and categories taht can barely explain the present. 'In so many places our language has not caught up with what we are actually doing, and the pity of this is that over and over again we are kept back within the boundaries of our language.'
Every day, we must win our leadership, whatever it is we are doing, or we lose it.
In her book Creative Experience (1924) she asserts that 'a dynamic psychology gives us instead of equivalents, plusvalents. It is those we must look for in every situation...progressive experience on every level means the creating of plusvalents.' (p.50).
You may find it difficult to find 'plusvalents' in a dictionary. But if equivalent refers to equal, similar or identical values; then plusvalent suggests a gaining more, an additive or integrative value. I like this idea, the idea of increasing power with others, rather than power-over, or transferring power or a 'balance of power'. Follett calls 'transferring power' as a 'puss-in-the-corner game' (p.vi). 'Genuine power can only be grown...genuine power is not coercive control, but coactive control. Coercive power is the curse of the universe; coactive power, the enrichment and advancement of every human soul.' (pvii).
Because facts do not remain stationary, and experts can differ about the same set of facts, we should not blindly accept the findings of the expert. We need to learn how to unite experience with experience in a social process in order to make progress. 'Unity, not uniformity.'
I wish I had met the work of Mary Parker Follett much earlier in my life. But now that I have, I will not let her go easily. I am hungry to read more and to share her throughts with students and colleagues in our quest for transforming teaching and learning. For more, see the Mary Parker Follett Network site at www.mpfollett.ning.com
It pays to look back and revisit ideas from history, and refresh them for the 21st century. To add an extra 'wow' factor into teamwork, take a look at
Caldicott, Sarah Miller 2013, Midnight lunch: the 4 phases of team collaboration process from Thomas Edison’s lab, John Wiley & Sons, New Jersey. Available via SYSU E-resources, e-books-EBRARY.
After one first year management class, I felt puzzled. A student came up to me to say that his team had almost completed their teamwork in week 2 of a 6 week project developing a 'virtual organisation' in order to understand management roles and challenges. They were obviously very goal and task oriented, but seemed to have missed the point from the previous learning about individual strengths, shared power and processes.
When teams come together, there is usually an already defined project and a leader who defines the goals and allocates tasks. The team is focused on completing the tasks to a set of defined standards within a fixed time-frame. Each person does their bit, but stops short of taking responsibility together for the whole process and outcomes. Something was missing from the equation.
As I walked across the campus, the name 'Thomas Edison' came into my head, in relation to creativity and innovation. I went to my EBRARY bookshelf, where I had already placed Caldicott's book.
When I shared some of the key learnings from this book with the students and they put them into practice, there was a notable shift in their thinking and practice. They started to push boundaries, past conventional ideas and the idea of copying others.
The key to switch on deeper 'discovery learning' is linked to Edison's principles, aimed to ‘maximise the brilliance and innate creativity in each of us to tackle major worldwide problems’.
Five key elements for innovation are: 1. Mindset 2. Creative processes 3. Work culture 4. Value creation 5. Team engagement.
It is extraordinary that Thomas Edison was only twenty-nine years old when he set up his first 'invention factory' in 1876. This consisted of an electrical lab, a chemistry lab and and a machine shop. Teams of diverse skilled scientists, engineers, machinists could move between areas and in a collegial environment with few hierarchies, this was a catalyst for creativity and innovation.
Edison was a brilliant entrepreneur, who founded more than 200 domestic and international companies, including
Edison General Electric Company, that we know today as GE, one of the top Fortune 50 companies (Jack Welch was CEO for 20 years). Edison was able to attract and cross –train a diverse talent pool from many disciplines and specialist skills in science, engineering, and machining. With a flat team structure, and small teams of no more than eight people, aimed at facilitating collegiality, flexibility, and communication, the environment was set for discovery learning, open to possibilities, and connecting common goals and purpose, following four phases of 'true collaboration':
1. CAPACITY: build relationships; trust; and be aware of the diversity of skills
2. CONTEXT: each one reads broadly; shares insights with team; Reframe, transform ideas; experiment…
3. COHERENCE: Can the team stay on track despite disagreements? Emphasise purpose, inspire; communicate…
4. COMPLEXITY: Manage complex data streams; leverage networks effectively, quickly…
And throughout, create the footprint, that is, record the team’s collective intelligence in a notebook (then...today a computer, video, images...) create the prototypes and keep testing, improving on each creation. At the end of phase 4, plan for product launch , keep improving, go back to square 1, or complete project (See Figures 1-1, and 1-3, Caldicott, 2013).
The next time you have a team project, take the time to understand capacity first, build the team relationships, invite each to read and think about the project and listen equally to each person's input. It could just make the difference between ordinary and extraordinary results!
Caldicott, SM 2013, Midnight lunch: the 4 phases of team collaboration process from Thomas Edison’s lab, John Wiley & Sons, New Jersey. Sarah is the great grandniece of Thomas Edison, and it's fabulous to see her as a torchbearer of his enormous legacy. Thank you! See Sarah's website: http://www.powerpatterns.com/
马年大吉 Mǎ nián dàjí Best wishes for the year of the horse
马到成功 Mǎdàochénggōng Success is on its way
The year of the horse and spring have now officially started...it's just a gentle trot now....but in two weeks it will be gallop as the new teaching semester starts.
Travel safe and enjoy those sweet family times and special Chinese traditions; best wishes to all our students and friends in China and around the world!
Quiet: the power of introverts in a world that can't stop talking. Susan CAIN, 2013, Broadway Books New York.
"Those who know do not speak;
Those who speak do not know." Lao Tse
With the start of the Chinese New Year, in the quiet time of the Spring Festival, before classes commence, there is time to contemplate what actions will we take to demonstrate leadership in 2014? How will we show our leadership style?
Many students are surprised to hear that I was painfully shy as a child, just like Susan Cain. I would be tongue-tied and blush in front of a class, or even my own family. As the youngest of five children, there were others who could speak for me.
Like Susan, I developed strategies to overcome that shyness and awkwardness. I loved performance- English, speech and drama. I learned to speak well, with passion and to 'put on an act', so I could live well in a world that seems to favour those who speak most often and the loudest. You will find me on LinkedIn, but I shrink from tweets and facebooking.
I write an occasional blog, but don't ask me to express a daily opinion. I would rather read a book or watch a movie, go to a forest or beach where there are few people, stay on our beautiful green and peaceful campus during the holiday break.
I have loved my roles in Human Resource Management, and teaching management, organisational behaviour, tourism and events. And I feel in my element in the teaching performance space of the classroom with my respectful, hungry-to-learn, and hard-working Chinese students.
But after class, I need down-time and quiet time to re-energise, reflect on the class and prepare for the next one.
Susan's writes that 'at least one-third of the people we know are introverts.
They prefer listening to speaking, reading to partying, who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion, who favour working on their own over brainstorming in teams.'
As teachers we are in a leadership role and should be mindful that we balance team coursework with individual course work, and set up programs that support each and every student to find the best way to express themselves and develop their special strengths.
Creativity and productivity are not always better due to groupwork. Solitude is a catalyst for creativity and innovation. We need both 'alone but not lonely' times, and we need to learn to slow down, to listen and interact with those who may not want to speak first, but are able to reflect on, and draw together the threads of the conversation, and offer deep insights.
"In a gentle way, you can shake the world," Mahatma Gandhi.
For more on Susan, go to these links.
When everything is ‘in sync’, we mean it is aligned.
Sometimes we might say that all the stars are in alignment,
or the ‘ducks are all in a row.’
It is more than serendipity, meaning a ‘happy accident’ –
a chance meeting; it is about the bigger flow
and the magnetic force of particular kinds of relationships
and more enduring power that can create great outcomes together.
I am teaching in the School of Tourism Management,
Zhuhai campus of Sun Yat-sen University.
Always hungry for books, I regularly trawl the stacks
of the 10th floor of the tall book-shaped library building.
The 10th floor houses the foreign languages books.
Here I can find an eclectic mix of writers and literature.
As I teach Management and Organisational Behaviour courses,
I wanted to familiarise myself with what was on the shelves
that I could recommend to my students,
beyond the conventional heavy detail-laden course text books.
I was seeking something by Peter Senge,
and other Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Management professors.
This led me to Joe Jaworski’s Synchronicity: the inner path of leadership (1996),
with an introduction by Peter Senge.
I was hooked, and surprised that I had not come across this book before.
It is very clearly written with editorial expertise from Betty Sue Flowers,
and one of those ‘un-put-downable’ books with a profound message.
It is a fast but deep read.
When Joe mentioned one of the first books he re-read
when he was making his transition from high flying lawyer
to following his dream of setting up a centre for developing leadership
was Jonathan Livingstone Seagull by Richard Bach,
I joined in his delight and wonder about life’s journey.
“Leadership is all about the release of human possibilities.
One of the central requirements for good leadership
is the capacity to inspire the people in the group to move them
and encourage them and pull them into the activity,
and to help them get centred and focused and operating at peak capacity.
A key element of this capacity to inspire is communicating to people
that you believe they matter,
that you know they have something important to give.
The confidence you have in others
will to some degree determine the confidence they have in themselves. …
Just being able to be there for others and to listen to them
is one of the most important capacities a leader can have.
It calls forth the best in people by allowing them to express
what is within them. If someone listens to me say what I am feeling,
then my feelings are given substance and direction, and I can act”
(Jaworski 1996, p.66).
“ Arthur Koestler, paraphrasing Jung, defines ‘synchronicity’
as the ‘seemingly accidental meeting of two unrelated causal chains in a
coincidental event which appears both highly improbable and highly significant.’
The people who come to you are the very people
you need in relation to your commitment.
Doors open, a sense of flow develops,
and you find you are acting in a coherent field of people
who may not even be aware of one another.
You are not acting individually any longer,
but out of the unfolding generative order.
This is the unbroken wholeness of the implicate order
out of which seemingly discrete events take place.
At this point, your life becomes a series of predictable miracles”
(Jaworski 1996, p. 185).
CREATING THE FUTURE, SHIFTING THE THINKING AND DOING
There are two key shifts required:
Shift our mental model that the universe is fixed and determined,
predictable as a machine or a clock.
Sometimes matter is like particles; sometimes like waves;
sometimes it as mass and sometimes it is energy.
All are interconnected and constantly moving.
Therefore, the future is not fixed and pre-determined.
The quintessential organising principle of the universe is relationship.
All particles are ephemeral states in a continuous
but changing network of interactions, or relationships (Jaworski 1996,pp.183-184).
Shift the nature of our commitment
“We grow up with the belief that if we commit to something ‘out there’
work longer and harder than others, we will be successful.
Another pathway of commitment is to trust our inner voice
to shape our role in forming the future.
Can we suspend our expectations,
be still long enough to hear the inner voice,
and trust it to guide us to the right people
and right opportunities to create coherence and meaning? …
From this commitment to our inner voice,
when we stop pretending to be like someone else,
we become more authentic and begin to attract the right people
in order to form a larger conversation and shape action
to create promising futures.
Instead of fighting against worst-case scenarios driven by fear,
anxiety or anger, we are walking towards and creating promising futures,
inspired by trust, calmness and love (Jaworski 1996, pp.184-185).
Jaworski, Joseph (Joe), 1996,
Synchronicity: the inner path of leadership,
Berrett-Koehler Publishers, San Francisco.
As a gentle provocateur of positive change,