Managing by Mintzberg – book review

I read this book as part of my 90 day plan – an action plan for my first 90 days as a new manager. My motivation for reading it was that I had never really grasped what a manger does and even when I got my current job managing a team of four, I really was none the wiser. Of course I knew in general terms, such as ensure marketing campaigns are run successfully and the team is well organised, but in terms of what a manager does day to day I really had no real clue (until I actually started doing the job and was hit squarely with the realities of managing).

As a marketer responsible for the operational elements of planning and running a campaign, tradeshows etc. prior to this,  I new and understood what this entailed, but once I found myself stripped of operational responsibilities and positioned as strategic planner and figure head it required not just a physical shift but more importantly a mental shift. I felt that I needed some direction with regard to the nuances that ‘managing’ entails, this book helped provide that.

It was very valuable to read this book whilst encountering many of the scenarios it describes. I wouldn’t say this book was a highly enjoyable read, as it felt quite tedious at times, very much like an academic text.  But it is a very valuable read and may even go as far to say it is a necessary read for managers and aspiring managers, I definitely understand why it is the ‘CMI Management Book of the Year 2010′.

My favourite things about the book

  • This book is based on Mintzberg’s observations during a day spent individually with 29 managers across a range of sectors this is incredibly value as the book is steeped in management practice which makes it all the more relevant and relatable.
  • I believe that currently there is an over emphasis on leadership and not enough on management, this skew is clearly evident in the comparatively disproportionate amount of leadership books on the market compared with management books. Mintzberg maintains that leadership is overrated, it is an integral part of management but not the be all and end all – he puts leadership in perspective and I really liked this.
  • Mintzberg asserts that management cannot be taught it has to be practiced – you will not get what a manager does until you are yourself a manager, it is a mesh of so many different threads that the manager is tasked with bringing together in a dynamic balance.
  • This book dispels many management myths and outlines clearly what managing is through a comprehensive description of management roles and a very useful model for managing.

This book has many nuggets of wisdom, it’s pragmatic, comprehensive and it’s honesty is reassuring – it’s comforting to know that the many dysfunctions and conundrums that I face on a daily basis are actually common place.

This book isn’t perfect – the chapters are very long and it’s not particularly easy to read but it’s definitely a worthy addition on any manager or aspiring managers bookshelf. Even if you just have a passing interest in management or you’ve just always wanted to know what it is that managers do, I would highly recommend it.

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