Henry Mintzberg

The typical business school today is concerned with business functions, not management. Certainly managers have to understand business functions-marketing, accounting, sales, and so on-but the practice of business is not the same as the practice of management. Mixing all these functions together in a person is not going to produce a manager.

Now, while business schools have been successful in analyzing things, in separating all these specialized functions, they have not been successful in putting them together, in synthesizing them into a coherent vision or integrated system. That’s the difficult-and the interesting-part of management.

The trouble with business schools’ emphasis on analysis is that it leads to an emphasis on technique or formula thinking. I define technique as something that can be used in place of a brain, and management schools have made a specialty of offering courses in techniques-empowerment techniques for human resources or portfolio models for financial resources. I’m not saying that technique doesn’t have a place in management, but it must be used carefully and in context, not generically by people on the fast track who see technique as a way of compensating for a lack of experience. You’ve heard of the so-called rule of the tool: Give somebody a hammer and everything looks like a nail. Well, MBA programs have given their graduates so many hammers that many organizations look like smashed-up beds of nails.

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