laser cats and mary parker follett
When I teach my sociology of organizations courses, I always include an underrecognized org theorist, Mary Parker Follett,* who advocated for “power-with” instead of “power over.” Follett argued that voting and other more conventional decision-making approaches generate dissatisfactory outcomes, in which one or more parties lose. She suggested that groups engage in a consensus-oriented decision-making process to identify what parties really want and thus generate novel solutions. However, providing real-life examples of this process is not easy, particularly since many decisions are made hierarchically or when one party tires of the decision-making process.
But, thanks to the Internet, here is one light-hearted example, starring an improbable combination of lasers, Mr. Bigglesworth the cat, and a Chihuahua:
Party A: High school student Draven Rodriguez wanted a memorable photo for the school yearbook. His desired portrait is definitely awesome:
Party B: However, the school wanted uniformity in its yearbook’s senior student photos, so the school said no to Rodriguez’s request.
However, both parties continued to talk. What’s the outcome? Click here for the answer.
Party B suggested that Rodriguez and Mr. Bigglesworth take a photo with the school principal Diane Wilkinson and Vivienne, her dog. The photo will be included on the principal’s page of the yearbook, with a message to raise awareness for the ASPCA and rescue pets. The end result is indeed a winner for all parties:
If only getting world leaders to agree in this manner were so easy …
More spectacular photos here.
* Follett’s ideas influenced some of Chester Barnard’s managerial recommendations, although Barnard was more hierarchical and authoritarian to the point of advocating physical force.