Management? It's Not What You Think!

 Management? It's Not What You Think!

Authors: Henry Mintzberg, Bruce Ahlstrand, Joseph Lampel
Pub Date: September 2010
Print Edition: $22.00
Print ISBN: 9780814416846
Page Count: 192
Format: Hardback

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Mintzberg’s Meditations on Management

• Management is a curious phenomenon. It is generously paid, enormously influential, and significantly devoid of common sense. At least, the hype about management lacks common sense, as does too much of the practice…

• Hype is the problem in management; the medium destroys the message…Why don’t we just stop reengineering and delayering and restructuring and decentralizing and instead start thinking?

• To ‘turn around’ is to end up facing the same way. Maybe that is the problem: all this turning around. Might not the white knight of management be the black hole of organizations?

• Does anyone want to work for a manager who lacks the qualities of leadership? That can be pretty discouraging. Well, how about a leader who doesn’t practice management? That can be pretty alienating; he or she is unlikely to know what is going on. Instead of isolating leadership, we need to diffuse it, throughout the organization, into the ranks of managers and beyond.

• We hear a great deal about micro managing these days—managers who meddle in the work of their reports. Sure it can be a problem. But far more serious now is macro managing—managers who sit on ‘top,’ pronouncing their great strategies and imposing their abstract performance standards while everyone else is supposed to scurry around ‘implementing.’ I call this ‘management by deeming.’

• Quiet managers don’t empower their people—‘empowerment’ is taken for granted. They inspire them. They create the conditions that foster openness and release energy…Quiet managers strengthen the cultural bonds between people, not by treating them as detachable ‘human resources’ (probably the most offensive term ever coined in management, at least until ‘human capital’ came along), but as respected members of a cohesive social system. When people are trusted, they do not have to be empowered.

• It is plain silly to take people who have never been managers—many of whom have not even worked full-time for more than a few years—and pretend to be turning them into managers in a classroom. We need to stop dumping management theories and cases on people who have no basis even to judge their relevance…Let’s begin by recognizing today’s M.B.A. for what it is: technical training for specialized jobs, such as marketing research and financial analysis. Then maybe we can recognize good management for what it is: not some technical profession, certainly not a science or even an applied science (although sometimes the application of science) but a practice, a craft.

• Organizations need continuous care, not interventionist cures. That is why nursing is a better model for management than medicine and why women may ultimately make better managers than men…In a sense, caring is a more feminine approach to managing, although I have seen it practiced by some excellent male chief executive officers. Still, women do have an advantage, in which case the corporate world is wasting a great deal of talent. Let us, therefore, welcome more women into the executive suites as perhaps our greatest hope for coming to our senses.

Excerpted from MANAGEMENT? It’s Not What You Think! by Henry Mintzberg, Bruce Ahlstrand, and Joseph Lampel (AMACOM 2010).

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