Modern Management: The Prophet, First Lady, and Fathers

Peter F. Drucker (1909-2005) is widely considered the “Father of Modern Management” (“the man who invented management”). Gary Hamel (1954-) is recognized as the “most influential business thinker in the world”. Both, Drucker and Hamel, recognized Mary Parker Follett (1868-1933). Drucker regarded Follett as the “Prophet of Management”. Hamel regards Follett as the “world’s most prescient management thinker”. Indeed, Follett’s influence is readily apparent in the works of both, Drucker and Hamel.

To appreciate Follett’s forward-looking perspective, consider the following quotes (and their emphasis):

  • Vision and Leadership: “The most successful leader of all is one who sees another picture not yet actualized.”
  • Purpose for Fellowship (Leadership and Followership): “Leader and followers are both following the invisible leader — the common purpose.”
  • Empowerment: “The best leader knows how to make his followers actually feel power themselves, not merely acknowledge his power.”
  • Context and Situational Awareness: “That is always our problem, not how to get control of people, but how all together we can get control of a situation.”
  • Engagement: “It is not opposition but indifference which separates men.”
  • Conflict: “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.”
  • Integration: “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.”
  • Unity: “Unity, not uniformity, must be our aim. We attain unity only through variety. Differences must be integrated, not annihilated, not absorbed.”
  • Progress: “The unifying of opposites is the eternal process.”

Lillian Moller Gilbreth (1878-1972) is regarded as the “First Lady of Engineering”. Frederick Winslow Taylor (1856–1915) is regarded as the “Father of Scientific Management”. While Gilbreth was an associate of Taylor, Gilbreth believed that “scientific management as formulated by Taylor fell short when it came to managing the human element”.

Follett, furthermore, “bridges the gap” between Taylor and William Edwards Deming (1900-1993), who is regarded as the “Father of Quality Management”.


One thought on “Modern Management: The Prophet, First Lady, and Fathers

  1. Thanks for the great quotes! She also wrote The New State, focusing similar sensibilities on government – although arguably the way that she conceives it, it would no longer be “governing” in the sense we usually think of it. For example, this from her 1933 papers presented to the London School of Economics:

    “It seems to me that whereas power usually means power-over, the power of some person or group over some other person or group, it is possible to develop the conception of power-with, a jointly developed power, a co-active, not a coercive power.”

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