Henry Mintzberg

In: "Managing"

To be superficial is an occupational hazard of managerial work [...] To succeed, managers have to become proficient at their superficiality.

It has been said that an expert is someone who knows more and more about less and less until finally he or she knows everything about nothing. The manager’s problem is the opposite: knowing less and less about more and more until finally he or she knows nothing about everything.

The manager’s productive output has to be gauged largely in terms of the information he or she transmits orally or by e-mail.

A good theory is one that holds together long enough to get you to a better theory. Donald O. Hebb (1969)

‘being a manager’ means not merely assuming a position of authority but also becoming more dependent on others,” insiders and outsiders—and more so in senior positions\

“It’s not [the manager’s] job to supervise or to motivate, but to liberate and enable” (Max DePree of Herman Miller, 1990).\

the job of development is perhaps best seen as managers helping people to develop themselves.\

Chester Barnard has written: “Executive work is not that of the organization, but the specialized work of maintaining the organization in operation” (1938:215).\

But no matter which it is, the drive for change always requires the maintenance of some stability, just as stability cannot be had without the promotion of adaptive change (Huy 2001:78-79).

are decomposed into strengths, weaknesses, threats, and opportunities.

“Defining Our Destiny—Leadership through Excellence.” It included sections on the mandate, the mission, a vision statement, ten “values” (ranging from pride in heritage to respect for “strategic thinking linked to strategic action”), and eight “strategic priorities and objectives,” described at some length (including “effectively managing protected areas,” “commemorating and protecting cultural heritage,” and “organizational excellence”).

Synthesis is the very essence of managing: putting things together, in the form of coherent strategies, unified organizations, and integrated systems.

This is more like playing with Legos, except that the pieces don’t attach very well, and the manager may not even be clear what needs to be built.

as people rise from the action base of the specialist to the abstract planes of the generalist, they become disconnected from what they are supposed to manage. In this respect, all managers are somewhat incompetent. Yet someone has to manage. And so we have this conundrum.

As Tom Peters put it, in managerial work “‘sloppiness’ is normal, probably inevitable, and usually sensible” (1979:171).

As Len Sayles noted: “All plans are incomplete. There are always unforeseen and unforeseeable defects” (1979:166).

we only notice what is changing, not what isn’t, which includes most of what is around us.

(This morning did you ask why, in these times of great change, you are still buttoning buttons?)

What we need to hear more about is that too much change leads to a perpetual and dysfunctional angst, among other problems.

the Riddle of Change: How to manage change when there is the need to maintain continuity?

to manage is not just to walk a tightrope, but to move through a multidimensional space on all kinds of tightropes.

In its multidimensional space, managing is a balancing act of the highest order.

F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote, “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”

Effective managers think for themselves.

Managing is a tapestry woven of the threads of reflection, analysis, worldliness, collaboration, and proactiveness, all of it

infused with personal energy and bonded by social integration.

to be effective in any managerial position, there is a need for thoughtfulness—not dogma,

not greed risen to some high art, not

fashionable technique, not me-too strategies, not all that “leadership” hype, just plain old judgment.

Managers, let alone leaders, cannot be created in a classroom. If management is a practice, then it cannot be taught as a science or a profession. In fact, it cannot be taught at all.

management development is about getting the meaning of experience, and that means busy managers have to slow down, step back, and reflect thoughtfully on their own experience.

We have more than enough calculating managers already. We need ones who can deal with the calculated chaos of managing—its art and craft—which highlights the importance of reflection, worldliness, collaboration, and action.

What could be more natural than to see our organizations not as mystical hierarchies of authority so much as communities of engagement, where every member is respected and so returns that respect?