Mintzberg on What’s Wrong with Management

Henry Mintzberg thinks modern management is off the tracks. While we spoke, I got the feeling if I asked what’s wrong with management he’d say practically everything. This from one of the most respected business thinkers in the world.

He went so far as to say,

“The problem in America
isn’t the economy it’s management.”

Mintzberg speaks against:

  1. MBA’s with no experience.
  2. Shareholder value.
  3. Separating management from leadership.
  4. Top-down strategy making. He believes strategy emerges from conversations within an organization.
  5. Excessive executive compensation. He juxtaposed narcissist with over-compensated CEO.
  6. Using terms like “human resources” and “human capital”. He thinks it’s sick.
  7. Pushing employees to work harder and longer.
  8. Current hiring practices.

Hiring a CEO:

“Stop hiring people who can impress.” Henry Mintzberg

Stop looking for perfect candidates. Mintzberg said, “Flaws aren’t fatal.” I got the idea that he doesn’t believe in savior-CEO’s.

Mintzberg said, “Listen to the people who know them best, the people who worked for them. There are only two ways to find out someone’s flaws, marry them or work for them.”

Searching for perfect – flawless – candidates prevent anyone from saying the emperor has no cloths. In a world filled with “perfect” leaders, fakery prevails. On a personal level:

Fakery exacerbates stress in an already stress filled world.


Mintzberg isn’t a big fan of email, to add an ninth item to the list. It obviously has a place but, “It does have an off button.”

He asked me to send him an email when to let him know I posted and then with tongue-in-cheek said, “I check email every three weeks.” At least I think he was joking. I found him to be contrarian but not contrary.

Read his thoughts on “The Offline Executive“.

What do you think is wrong with modern management?