Managing by Henry Mintzberg

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Managing by Henry Mintzberg

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Category: Business and Finance
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Zoe Morris
Reviewed by Zoe Morris
Summary: A simple book with a whole lot of information to get your teeth into, this is written at a level the lay person can understand but with the sort of insight and detail Fortune 500 CEOs will find interesting, and MBA students will devour too. Really a little something for everyone.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: September 2009
Publisher: Financial Times
ISBN: 978-0273709305

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Study after study has shown that managers work at an unrelenting pace

How true, though it always makes me wonder why, as a result, there's such a market for bulky management and leadership and general business books like this one. How does anyone who needs or wants to read one ever find the time to do so? This title actually has an answer to this, by providing two books in one, and it is such a simple yet effective solution that I have to start there. You can read this book in one of two ways. Option one is to read every word, chapter by chapter, cover to cover. If you have the time I would recommend this approach because the book is very readable, not too repetitive, and quite thought-provoking.

But, I hear you say, you don't have time for all that. You're too busy doing the managing to be reading about it. Then, my friends, option two is for you. Option two, is a book within a book. Many of us, as students, will have highlighted certain phrases or segments in a text book to allow easy location at a later date. This book takes the exact same approach but does it for you and the author has used bold type rather than snazzy luminous markers, to pick out the key points from each page. They're short, punchy sentences that sum up what you need to know, and you can read the book just looking at these sections and get a pretty decent insight in a fraction of the time. That's not to say the rest of the non-highlighted words are surplus to requirements, but when time is limited you can follow this approach and not spend ages wading through the slightly less relevant stuff to get to the real gems.

Now for the book itself. Both for study and for personal interest, I have read more than my fair share of management books over the last 10 years, and just when I thought there could be nothing else to say on the topic, along came this one. Mintzberg is an acclaimed writer on the subject, and clearly lives and breathes management. The level of detail this book goes into is immense, and some of the chapters are literal lists of different ways to play the game. The section on management models is more than 50 pages long (and, alas, only a handful of those contain nice little illustrative diagrams) while The Untold Varieties of Management provided me with a mind-boggling array of categories from Maximal Managing to Participative Managing. The presentation is not overly convoluted or unnecessarily complex, but it's clear an awful lot of thought has gone into the whole thing.

What this book does especially well, in my view, is integrate real case studies throughout. As part of the preparation, the author observed 29 different managers for a day each and these were wonderfully diverse, from the CEO of a Canadian bank to top executives in none profits and the public sector. These observations took place over 20 years and spanned 3 continents but the ones that took place in my line of work seem as relevant today as when they were recorded.

Mintzberg has a unique voice that is hard to dislike. The book is sensibly structured and easy to read, but it's his to-the-point observations (NHS management is a surreal game for example) that really won me over. It is helpful for those managers who could use a little self-reflection to motivate improvement, without providing such a negative picture you wonder why you've not yet been fired for incompetence. One I'll be keeping to dip in and out of in the future, I don't think it's over the top to say this is pretty much the perfect book on what can sometimes be a dull or repetitive subject. This title is neither, which alone is a startling accomplishment.

Thanks go to the publishers for sending us this title.

If, having read this, you have room for yet still more management, we would suggest a peek at Tim Hindle's Guide to Management Ideas and Gurus.

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Buy Managing by Henry Mintzberg at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Managing by Henry Mintzberg at


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