Jun 8, 2004

Henry Mintzberg's letter to MBAs

Ok, I admit it ! I am a BIG Henry Mintzberg fan ! I loved his arguments when he wrote "the rise and fall of Strategic Planning" and I loved his debate with Igor Ansoff on the Honda case and I loved his book "Strategy Safari"...so when Henry Mintzberg said "MBAs are a Menace" and that "MBAs should have a warning sign on their forehead" I can't dismiss him as a loony anarchist ! And yes, I am an MBA and I wish Henry had told us about this 7 years ago :-)

Read on when he says:

Sure, you've taken courses called "management" and "strategy." But these were about looking in from the outside. The truth is, no one can become a manager in a classroom. Management is not a profession, nor is it science. It is a practice that depends mostly on craft and significantly on art. Craft is learned by experience. Art can, of course, be admired in a classroom--think of all the visionaries you read about in cases. But voyeurism is not management, either, nor does it develop creativity.

So there it is: You've invested all this time and money, and now I pop your balloon. What are you to do now? Well, there is hope. You probably did learn a lot about business, and that's important--if you go into business. (Please stay out of government and the social sector; they have enough troubles.) If you are truly interested in management, as opposed to just fame or money, you may be ready to learn its practice. Find an industry you like, get a good job, and stick with it . The world doesn't need more case-study managers who flit from one industry to another. Prove yourself, and eventually you'll be tapped for a managerial position. That is when your management education will begin. Prepare then to learn about management. Live it. Experience it.