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.
Two decades ago, Mintzberg, a professor at McGill University who was then teaching MBAs at MIT, discovered a profound "disconnect between the practice of management... and what went on in classrooms." Since that time, he has dedicated himself to the problems of management and management education, both of which he believes are "deeply troubled," and the latter of which has become the wrong that he, with help from colleagues around the world, must right. Using words like "arrogance," "mindless" and "exploitation," Mintzberg outlines just what is wrong with MBAs (the people and the degrees) and why the degree he's developed is rooted in the real world and, as such, is far more relevant and valuable to students, companies and the business world at large. Strong economies are based on good management, not on good business schools, Mintzberg believes, and because the top companies employ the top MBAs and the top MBAs (not to mention the mediocre and bottom-level degree-holders) are, or so he says, the products of an out-of-touch and unrealistic graduate program, then the effects of this miseducation can be felt far beyond the classroom walls. Mintzberg's argument is clearly researched and set forth in a progressively logical and even convincing way. Managers and manager wannabes will be intrigued and can certainly learn a thing or two as long as they, as Mintzberg himself urges in his teachings, consider the source of the education.