Scholarship That Matters: Academic–Practitioner Engagement in Business and Management
Henry Mintzberg, a professor of management at McGill University in Canada and at INSEAD in France, takes aim at the hype surrounding management fads and gurus and dares to suggest that the emperor has no clothes. In order to rile all who care about management and get them thinking creatively, he presents ten contrarian observations on such topics as the meanness of leanness, the folly of CEOs who fancy themselves strategists, the disempowering that so-called empowerment creates, the myopia of purely financial measures, and the inadequacy of M.B.A. programs. Mintzberg maintains, for example, that it is time to delayer the delayerers. He argues that delayering has created more problems than it has solved be cause it is, in essence, a process by which people who barely know what's going on get rid of those who do--a process ensuring that the real database of the organization, the key to what was its future, lines up at the unemployment office. Too many managers, he says, dream of becoming the next turnaround doctor. They fail to understand that great organizations, once created, don't need great leaders: if a company can't function on its own, a hero won't help. A leader who draws out the knowledge embedded in all parts of an organization is a leader who can help a company function alone--without heroes. Such leaders often practice what Mintzberg calls the craft style of management (as opposed to the professional style or the boss style). It is about inspiring, not empowering. It is based on mutual respect rooted in common experience and offers hope for improving what is now wrong with management.