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:
- MBA’s with no experience.
- Shareholder value.
- Separating management from leadership.
- Top-down strategy making. He believes strategy emerges from conversations within an organization.
- Excessive executive compensation. He juxtaposed narcissist with over-compensated CEO.
- Using terms like “human resources” and “human capital”. He thinks it’s sick.
- Pushing employees to work harder and longer.
- 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?
I love how he turns so many things on their heads so we are forced to look at them (If we dare) differently.
One of the reasons I dare to quote him without further explanations is the impression that he loves to stir the pot… in the nicest way of course.
enjoy your weekend,
All the point suggested are real and authentic. I believe fakery prevails when we look of perfect match. I agree that flaw provide scope to improve. When organizations look for perfect people, people try to tailor themselves to suit the need. And this leads to fakery. I believe that management is the action and leadership is the philosophy to conceptualize ideas. Thus leadership and management are inseparable and complement each other. Pushing employees harder is nothing but to impress. There is a trend that when boss is sitting late, employees also need to sit. This has become so much integrated into the system, that it is expected from the employees.
One major flaw with the modern management I see is that they look for mutli layered person. In fact, they need someone who can always support to management in terms of saying ” Yes Sir”. They need ” Yesmanship Culture”. It has also been strongly observed that less competent boss does not promote more competent employees from the bottom. Even today, rewards and promotions are driven by relations and connection rather that performance and merits. I think, we need to re-define the definition of success. Modern management need to be fair, transparent and believe in equality. They should not make judgement based on perception, and any preconceived thinking. The most important things that model management need to do is to encourage and value ” Honesty, Ethics, Committed Efforts and Right means to achieve the mission of the organization.
What a thought provoking couple of posts. I love the statement that the only way you can discover a person’s flaws is to marry them or work for them. 🙂 That is so true it is scary.
But, he’s right, I see it in school administrators. Today they are more like politicians than school leaders. The media focus on schools has forced that upon them. They are hired to look right, and talk every side of the story to never offend any audience. In written and spoken words they have to market their schools and tweak the data in any way possible to paint their school as a flawless institution.
There is even a trend to hire non-traditional superintendents…people who have had no training in the educational field whatsoever. Some superintendents even call themselves CEOs. It is as though they want to take the school aspect of their job out of the equation. They want stepping stones to larger and wealthier districts just like celebrities use box office successes to command a larger salary for each movie.
A truly successful school is about the students and their successes, just like a successful business is about the workers on the front lines, the customers and the quality of the product. Many student successes don’t fall neatly into data driven charts. Some of the most phenomenal success stories I’ve ever withnessed in the classroom can’t be graphed. CEOs hate that. But real student-centered superintendents and teachers ‘get it’.
In this way Mintzberg makes a lot of sense.
Dauna, As a fellow teacher, I agree with your assessment and comments. Mintzberg, through Dan, gives much to chew on in 300 words.
Great post. Mintzberg has been railing against received wisdom for a very long time, often saying what I have wished someone would say. Just one element of this piece that particularly resonates with me is #8. A good deal of the problem is that HR has a seriously dysfunctional incentive, to avoid accepting a candidate who turns out badly. There is no penalty for rejecting an outstanding candidate. So we reject applicants for the most superficial of criteria such as a weak handshake!
Dauna makes a point with idea that school administrators have had to adapt to the increased public attention in order to paint a positive picture of their institution… on top of being the captain of the ship. Maybe CEO’s are just too damned busy these days being head cheerleader and crisis manager for their organization and lower management is not empowered enough to authenticate company focus and create and implement strategies Maybe it’s time the CEO be more like the Brit’s royality… more figurhead for the masses; the ultimate PR guy. Transfer the traditional CEO role to a “prime minister” idea. Call them.. a CEO “team”; one guy handles the leadership “helm” while the other guy tiptoes through the public minefields and can be in the TV commercials. Yeah.. shades of oligarchy to be sure.
Reblogged this on Ramblings of a Misguided Blonde and commented:
This, of course, struck a huge nerve. I’m so sick of people pretending to be something they are not. When are we as a society going to value authenticity? I’m waiting… but not holding my breath.
Reblogged this on Dan Armishaw and commented:
Mintzberg’s views on looking for perfect candidates are bang on!
I get the feeling that if it were a ‘complete the series’ item on a test, Professor Mintzberg would respond to “Human Resources” and “Human Capital” with “Human Trafficking”. Don’t think I’d go that far but do see his point. In fact, seeing this list leads me to wish I could sit down & talk management with him over a few pints – not just because I agree with him, but to get a better idea about what I should do about it.
Thanks for another great post Dan.
Reblogged this on Mr. Rommie Blog.
looking for the perfect candidate is a “Flaw” not just in looking for CEO’s but every position, and the tell tale sign is the word “Perfect” no one is or ever will be. And like everything else now we are making things far too complicated, behaviour tests, long processes, fitting in to the organisation culture when actually the Culture is not what the interviewer thinks it is, it is thier perception. And then we have Playing the policitical game, so we never know what a person really thinks or believes so would never know if they are “the Perfect Candidate” or just a great self marketing expert.
In my humble experience 🙂
While most of what Mintzberg is against makes obvious sense others need clarity probably by supplying an example or two. “Separating management from leadership,” and “strategy emerges from conversations within an organization,” are the two I’m referring to. Love to see more meat on those bones.
I completely agree with everything, especially five and six. We used to be called “personnel”. Human resources/capital sounds animalistic.
Still the best management and organisation specialist around. I clearly avoid the word guru. He’s more of an anthropologist who describes what he sees in the corporatejungle is such a way that you cannot disagre with the deductions and conclusions that follow.
Dan, I love this: “Searching for perfect – flawless – candidates prevent anyone from saying the emperor has no cloths.” such a perfect way to describe the new candidates.
I tend to agree with Mr. Mintzberg. My boss, who is college educated of course, knows less that I do. Okay, ‘scuse my bragging here: I don’t have a degree but I run circles around him. I’m his go-to person. He’s very complimentary, evaluates me high but shows his resentment in other ways. I figure this is he way of saying – Don’t get beside yourself. So I recently applied for a job – it’s almost funny – that is head of department very similar to mine. It would be hilarious (but not) if I get it! Time will tell. Another great post. Thanks.
Agree with rest of the things, except email. Email is the preferred mode of communication in virtual, global workplace. You can meet very few people now and call people occasionally. Most of the work will not get done if email was checked once in 3 weeks.
Much of modern management pays too much attention to stock market results (and their own portfolios), thinks productivity is a number based on revenue/worker, has no touch to their customers, takes the advice of outside sources rather than their own people, has no vision, doesn’t lead, makes decisions based on politics and encourages their people to do the same, has no soul. Need I go on?
The lack of relationships, accully knowing their people.