I am not being any original with this post’s headline, I know, as I think the title of the book I am briefly commenting on below, which I just finished reading, is the best introduction to itself. “Managers, not MBAs” by Prof. Mintzberg is a claim against the traditional MBA-like education or, more precisely, against the extremely harmful mindset whereby the MBA is thought of by some (too many) as a passport to manage. While having doing an MBA 6 years ago, I eagerly second Prof. Mintzberg’s analysis and conclusions, as I never did such a degree with the expectation to gain the right to manage but with the intent of being more capable of understanding certain things and acquiring the appropriate thinking paradigms to undertake business problems more effectively. One of the most concerning problems resulting from this misuse of the MBA, pointed out from different angles by Prof. Mintzberg, is that many people who come out of business schools, especially the so-called “top” ones, are so full of pride and “self-confidence” that lose all their humility, if they ever had any. And what happens then? A myriad of narcissistic and self-serving “managers” out there. I see Humility, my friends, not just a working/managing competency, but as THE competency (experience is always acquired, it is just a matter of time, and technical and managerial competencies are assumed). Humility and, let’s not forget, emotional intelligence (which, among other things, is about empathy, another soft ability normally neglected in business schools), are simply critical. Nothing works well without them, especially when the managers are the ones who lack them.
Well, let me just illustrate the fundamentals of Prof. Mintzberg’s thinking by quoting verbatim some of the statements which got my attention the most. I think they provide a good flavor (although very scarce, due to the richness of the book) of this outstanding piece of work:
“Considered as education for management, conventional MBA programs train the wrong people in the wrong ways with the wrong consequences”.
“If the business schools were really doing their job, were truly creating leaders, their graduates would be known for their humility, not their arrogance”
“(…) setting out to create leaders in a classroom, whether in short programs or full degrees, too often creates hubris”.
“Many MBA graduates are smart people who should never be allowed to manage anything”.
“Traditional management education has favored professors who believe they know better, and that, in turn, has produced managers who believe they know better, too”
Well, nothing else from my side, I already left good food for thinking behind.