Book Review

Management? It’s Not What You Think!

by Henry Mintzberg, Bruce Ahlstrand and Joseph Lampel, American Management Association. New York, N.Y., 2010, 132 pp. with index, $22.95 hardcover


Management? It’s Not What You Think! compiles articles, commentaries, poems and excerpts from books, journals and blogs to stretch our vision of management. The result elucidates and organizes the many divergent theories on what constitutes successful (and unsuccessful) management.



Frankly, while interesting, there is little content in the book to assist a superintendent in making quality decisions. Its unconventional format makes it difficult to read straight through, but instead, the book can be picked up, glanced through and revisited at another time. Individual quotations and vignettes could be useful as standalone statements and scenarios.

Henry Mintzberg, Cleghorn Professor of Mangement Studies at McGill University in Montreal, writes with Bruce Ahlstrand, professor of management at Trent University in Ontario, and Joseph Lampel, professor of strategy at Cass Business School, City University in London.

Though the authors are mainly concerned with business management, some of their points also apply to education. In both fields, effective managers avoid micromanaging while making it possible for everyone in the organization to contribute to the purpose of the organization or school.

Another managing style the authors cover is “managing quietly.” Quiet managers spend more time preventing problems than fixing them and are mindful of when and how to intervene to support the organization. Effective managers should recognize that an organization is composed of people, and Mintzberg proposes that organizations are collective social systems that naturally survive change in leadership.

Other topics include management jargon, management fads, myths and maxims and leadership strategies. The authors take care to present a variety of perspectives on each.

Thumbing through the book may be interesting and even helpful to superintendents, but to engage in reading it from cover to cover and finding strategies to implement in K-12 education is unlikely.

Reviewed by Linda Gray Smith, superintendent,Chillicothe R2 School District, Chillicothe, Mo.