In 2009, Henry Mintzberg’s Managing was named one of the best books of the year by strategy+business and Library Journal magazines, the number two business book of the year by the Toronto Globe and Mail, one of the top ten academic titles by Choice magazine, and the management book of the year in a competition organized by the Chartered Management Institute in association with the British Library.
So this is clearly a book every manager should read. But one of the issues Mintzberg addresses is the frenetic pace and relentless pressures of the job—most managers hardly have time to think. So Mintzberg has done some revising and some updating and has distilled the essence of his original 320-page book into a lean, action-oriented 216 pages.
The core of the book remains the same: Mintzberg’s observations of twenty-nine different managers, from business, government, and nonprofits, working in diverse settings ranging from a refugee camp to a symphony orchestra. What he saw led him to develop a new model of management, one firmly grounded in his conclusion that it is not a profession or a science. “It is a practice,” he writes, “learned primarily through experience and rooted in context.”
But context cannot be seen in the usual way. Factors such as national culture, level in a hierarchy, and even personal style turn out to have a far different influence—sometimes much less—than we have traditionally thought. Mintzberg also offers a compelling discussion of some of the inescapable conundrums of managing. How can you get in deep when there is so much pressure to get it done? How can you manage it when you can’t reliably measure it? How do you balance the need for change with the need for continuity?
He concludes with a provocative look at what being an effective manager really means, which he describes as “engaging management.” This is the most authoritative and revealing book yet written about what managers do, how they do it, and how they can have the greatest impact.
“Mintzberg does not accept conventional wisdom—he challenges it constantly…erudite as well as practical.”