Managers Not MBAs

A Hard Look at the Soft Practice of Management and Management Development

Henry Mintzberg (Author)

Publication date: 06/02/2005

Bestseller over 90,000+ copies sold

Managers Not MBAs
In this sweeping critique of how managers are educated and how, as a consequence, management is practiced, Henry Mintzberg offers thoughtful and controversial ideas for reforming both.

“The MBA trains the wrong people in the wrong ways with the wrong consequences,” Mintzberg writes. “Using the classroom to help develop people already practicing management is a fine idea, but pretending to create managers out of people who have never managed is a sham.”

Leaders cannot be created in a classroom. They arise in context. But people who already practice management can significantly improve their effectiveness given the opportunity to learn thoughtfully from their own experience. Mintzberg calls for a more engaging approach to managing and a more reflective approach to management education. He also outlines how business schools can become true schools of management.
  • Mintzberg, author of such classic bestsellers as The Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning and The Nature of Managerial Work, was named one of the Top 10 Management Thinkers in the World by the Financial Times
  • The most extensive critique of management education and its effects on management practice ever published-showing how MBA programs train the wrong people in the wrong ways with the wrong consequences
  • Offers proven alternatives for educating the right people in the right ways with the right consequences

Read more and meet author below

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Overview

In this sweeping critique of how managers are educated and how, as a consequence, management is practiced, Henry Mintzberg offers thoughtful and controversial ideas for reforming both.

“The MBA trains the wrong people in the wrong ways with the wrong consequences,” Mintzberg writes. “Using the classroom to help develop people already practicing management is a fine idea, but pretending to create managers out of people who have never managed is a sham.”

Leaders cannot be created in a classroom. They arise in context. But people who already practice management can significantly improve their effectiveness given the opportunity to learn thoughtfully from their own experience. Mintzberg calls for a more engaging approach to managing and a more reflective approach to management education. He also outlines how business schools can become true schools of management.

  • Mintzberg, author of such classic bestsellers as The Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning and The Nature of Managerial Work, was named one of the Top 10 Management Thinkers in the World by the Financial Times
  • The most extensive critique of management education and its effects on management practice ever published-showing how MBA programs train the wrong people in the wrong ways with the wrong consequences
  • Offers proven alternatives for educating the right people in the right ways with the right consequences

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Meet the Author


Visit Author Page - Henry Mintzberg
Henry Mintzberg is Cleghorn Professor of Management Studies at McGill University in Montreal, the winner of awards from the most prestigious academic and practitioner institutions in management (Harvard Business Review, Academy of Management, Association of Management Consulting Firms, and others), and the recipient of twenty honorary degrees from around the world. He is the author or coauthor of fifteen books, including Managers Not MBAs, Strategy Safari, and The Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning, and is a founding partner of CoachingOurselves.com.

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Excerpt

Book Title

INTRODUCTION

This is a book about management education that is about management. I believe that both are deeply troubled, but neither can be changed without changing the other.

The trouble with “management” education is that it is business education, and leaves a distorted impression of management. Management is a practice that has to blend a good deal of craft (experience) with a certain amount of art (insight) and some science (analysis). An education that overemphasizes the science encourages a style of managing I call “calculating” or, if the graduates believe themselves to be artists, as increasing numbers now do, a related style I call “heroic.” Enough of them, enough of that. We don’t need heroes in positions of influence any more than technocrats. We need balanced, dedicated people who practice a style of managing that can be called “engaging.” Such people believe that their purpose is to leave behind stronger organizations, not just higher share prices. They do not display hubris in the name of leadership.

The development of such managers will require another approach to management education, likewise engaging, that encourages practicing managers to learn from their own experience. In other words, we need to build the craft and the art of managing into management education and thereby bring these back into the practice of managing.

Follow the chapter titles of this book into the chapters, and you will read about management education—Part I on what I believe is wrong with it, Part II on how it could be changed. But look within the chapters, and you will read about management itself—again what I believe is wrong with it and how it could be changed. To pick up on the subtitle, here we take a hard look at the soft practice of managing, alongside that of management development. There are plenty of books that provide soft looks at the hard practice of managing. I believe we need to face management as it is, in a serious way; it is too important to be left to most of what appears on the shelves of bookstores. Easy formulas and quick fixes are the problems in management today, not the solutions.

I have written this book for all thoughtful readers interested in management education and practice: developers, educators, managers, and just plain interested observers. I mean this to include MBA applicants, students, and graduates, at least ones who harbor doubts about this degree. If what I write here is true, then they especially should be reading this book.

Readers interested in management education will get the messages about management practice as they go along. Readers interested in management itself—this hard look at that soft practice—can focus on particular parts of the book. Chapters 4, 5, and 6 contain the essence of this material. Before reading this, however, I suggest you look at the introduction to Part I and the first part of Chapter 1 (pages Part One"EXPERIENCE" IN MBA ADMISSIONS) as well as, from Chapter 2, pages Management By AnalysisInfiltrating Ethics, The Case for CasesSecondhandedness, and The Impression Left by MBA Education. Beyond Chapter 6, I recommend pages 259-Proposition 7. All of the above should be blended into a process of "experienced reflection. and especially Toward Engaging ManagementTable 9.4 TWO WAYS TO MANAGE in Chapter 9, pages Module I: Managing Self—The Reflective MindsetTable 11.1 DIMENSIONS OF THE MODULES in Chapter 11, and pages Developing Managers IVIMPact and Does the IMPM Benefit? in Chapter 13.

I should add that there are all kinds of illustrative materials in the boxes that accompany the text. Reading these will give much of the flavor of my arguments.

Part I of this book is called “Not MBAs.” Some people may see it as a rant; I wrote it as a serious critique of what I believe to be a deeply flawed practice. If you have anything to do with MBAs, whether hiring them, supporting them, teaching them, or being one, I urge you to read this, if only to entertain some dark thought about this ostensibly sparkling degree. And if you are a manager or have anything to do with managers (who doesn’t in this world?), I hope that reading this will open your eyes to a vitally important activity that is going out of social control.

The chapters of this first part flow as follows. What I call conventional MBA programs, which are mostly for young people with little if any managerial experience (“Wrong People,” Chapter 1), because they are unable to use art or craft, emphasize science, in the form of analysis and technique (“Wrong Ways,” Chapter 2). That leaves their graduates with the false impression that they have been trained as managers, which has had a corrupting effect on the education and the practice of management as well as on the organizations and societies in which it is practiced (“Wrong Consequences,” Chapters 3, 4, 5, and 6).

There has been a lot of hype about changes taking place in prominent MBA programs in recent years. Don’t believe it (“New MBAs?” Chapter 7). The MBA is a 1908 degree based on a 1950s strategy. The real innovations in management education, mostly in England but hardly recognized in America, serve as a bridge from the critique of Part I to the positive ideas for “Developing Managers” in Part II.

There is a great and unfortunate divide between management development and management education. While a full discussion of management development would require a book unto itself, the presentation of a framework of basic practices (“Management Development in Practice,” Chapter 8) can open up vistas for management education.

The discussion of the book to this point suggests a set of general principles by which management education can be reconceived (“Developing Management Education,” Chapter 9). These principles have been brought to life in a family of programs that can take management education and development to a new place, by enabling managers to reflect on their own experience in the light of insightful concepts (five aspects of “Developing Managers,” Chapters 10 through 14). No one can create a leader in a classroom. But existing managers can significantly improve their practice in a thoughtful classroom that makes use of those experiences.

All this suggests that the business schools themselves need to be reconceived, including a metamorphosis into management schools (“Developing True Schools of Management,” Chapter 15). But will these agents of change be able to change?

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