I’ve recently been re-acquainting myself with Henry Mintzberg’s work. In the past I’ve found his work interesting, but what strikes me today is how sensible much of it is. And he himself seems to be quite the non-guru, though his ideas make him as worthy of guru-dom as any recent management thinker.
Mintzberg has obsessed for years about one of the pillars of modern management — the MBA. A theme he’s examined in some detail in Managers Not MBAs. He questions conventional MBA programmes, which, he believes, tend to be designed to help graduates get a better job. Instead, management education should be about helping managers do a better job.
What makes Mintzberg different is that he did not stop with questioning the MBA, but went several steps further and helped design a masters programme in management for practising managers — the International Masters Program in Practicing Management at Canada’s McGill University.
Remarkably, he’s now extended this even further with CoachingOurselves, a self-organising management development programme. In CoachingOurselves, groups of managers or prospective managers get together to share their experiences on various management-related issues. Each discussion is anchored to a management topic downloaded from the CoachingOurselves Web site; each topic is authored by someone considered an expert in that particular area. An unfussy and effective way to learn.
So is the ‘coaching ourselves’ idea selling? It is, says Mintzberg in this interview in Strategy+Business (you’ll need to register to read it). And if you want to read more by this most sensible of management thinkers, check out this page on his Web site. You may not get an MBA, but you sure will get some insights into the practice of management.