Mintzberg’s Magic Wand

I asked Professor Henry Mintzberg, author of 140 articles and 13 books, “If you waved a magic wand over businesses, what would you change?”

He said, “I’d get rid of all MBA’s.”

He explained, “We’d lose some good people but in the whole it would be a positive move.” Mintzberg’s quiet voice disarms but he never minces words. Never mistake quiet for weak.

Mintzberg believes management has gone completely off the rails. Things that trouble Mintzberg about MBA’s include:

  1. They graduate with distorted pictures of management. They believe management is about management principles, for example.
  2. They believe they can manage anything regardless of the business.
  3. They have knowledge without experience which leads to hubris.

“If management isn’t about management principles, what’s it about?” I asked.

“Management is connecting.” Henry Mintzberg

Although he didn’t use the terms human or humane, they seem to explain his passion. He despises an emphasis on productivity that’s built on the backs of over-worked, burned-out employees. He believes pushing people only works in the short-term.


He also believes cutbacks and layoffs are equivalent to the failed practice of bloodletting. They produce short-term profits and long-term loses. Mintzberg loves saying, “If you want productivity, fire everyone and sell from inventory.”

Long-term success:

Mintzberg believes organizations should be built for long-term success rather than quick profits. Shifting to the long view may be the most radical change businesses can make because it requires connecting.


Recent article by Mintzberg and Todd: The Offline Executive

A new approach to leadership development: Coaching Ourselves

If you could wave a magic wand over businesses, how would they change?

How are you navigating short-term vs. long-term views of business, management, and leadership?