I’ve entered the Leadership Development Program in my County. It’s a ‘slim’ version of Ben Franklin’s Junta. Do you know if there is a specific publication on the Junta and its work? (Franklin has always been my hero — and I’d like to be involved in the upcoming celebration of his birth but have as yet found no avenue to do so.)
Ah, what a delightful question that takes me far away from the bits and bytes of computer operating systems and back into the past, to rendezvous with one of the most innovative people involved with the founding of our nation. A inveterate tinkerer and inventor, Ben Franklin had an astonishingly wide range of interests, from political systems to power systems, writing and printing technologies to abolitionist, and was apparently quite a charming and amusing companion too.
But let’s get specific! A junta, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is a body of persons acting towards a common aim, especially a political clique or faction after a revolution. Hmm… you can see why this might have caught Franklin’s attention in the late 1700’s, somehow.
Here are some snippets from around the Web:
“Active in the community, [Franklin] founded a discussion group called the Junta (1727) that evolved into the American Philosophical Association and helped establish the first U.S. lending library (1731), as well as an academy (1751) that evolved into the University of Pennsylvania.” [src]
“The Junta was a modern day network group founded by Franklin to create ties with serious business connections. It’s the same thing author of Think and Grow Rich, Napolean Hill called a “Mastermind” group. ” [src]
This pair of quotes allows us to transition into the material you actually seek, I’m sure, not a historical essay. The following explanation of a Junto or Mastermind group comes from “Tom Terrific” at the Speakernet News Web site:
“One of the games which trainers use to teach teamwork is to give a puzzle to a group. Initially, each person has to work separately in coming up with the answer. When the time is up, the trainer asks for a show of hands on how many people solved the entire puzzle. Usually, no one raises their hand. The puzzle is too tough. Some people have figured out part A, some people have figured out another section, but no one person solves the entire puzzle. Then the trainer allows the entire group to work on the puzzle together. The group starts talking, exchanging ideas, sharing theories and before you know it, the puzzle is solved.
“This basically is the idea behind the Junto. A group of people working together, thinking and sharing ideas. The group can help you see solutions and possibilities you may have never thought of before. The group can also be supportive, caring and encouraging of your individual goals.
“The name Junto comes from Benjamin Franklin. In his autobiography, he says, “I had formed most of my ingenious (clever) acquaintances into a club for mutual improvement. Our club, the Junto, was found so useful and afforded such satisfaction to the members, that several were desirous of introducing their friends.” His Junto helped start the first library system in the United States. He also presented a paper to the Junto on the necessity of starting a fire company to handle the fires in the community. From this start in the Junto, one of the first volunteer fire companies in America was established.
“One of the interesting “laws” of Benjamin Franklin’s Junto was that members were “forbid the use of every word or expression in the language that imported a fixed opinion, such as certainly, undoubtedly, etc.” One of the tenets of the club is “you don’t know it all” and that you can see more clearly by using the eyes, ears and minds of many people.”
There’s more on the site, and apparently at least one book on this subject, though I can’t find much reference to it at Amazon, though it’s probably discussed in Ben Franklin’s 12 Rules of Management.
Fascinating stuff, and I’d love to participate in a Junto or Mastermind group myself, honestly.
Good luck to you!