Sweet dreams can be made of this

5 February 2019

Today’s the day: my new book is officially out!!  Bedtime Stories for Managers, created from these blogs. Here, exclusive to you (aside from the millions of enthralled readers-to-be), is the introduction to the book:

Good evening…

Offline? Excellent. Welcome to Bedtime Stories for Managers, a playful book with a serious message: management has to come down from lofty leadership, to grounded engagement. How so? By organizing like a cow instead of a chart…so that strategies can grow like weeds in a garden…as extraordinary ideas come from ordinary people…who are distinctively worldly instead of cookie-cutter global.

The first story sets the tone, telling how the CEO of a failing airline sat in First Class while his customers in back had to eat what was called scrambled eggs. In a world as scrambled as ours, managers have to eat those eggs.

A few years ago, I began a blog (mintzberg.org/blog) to capture a lifetime of ideas buried in obscure publications. Then I came across a book of stories for the fans of the Montreal hockey team, 101 in all. Perfect bedtime reading!—a little story or two before dozing off. Why not a book of blogs for managers? What better time than now, by which I mean bedtime, after the managing has stopped—if it ever does.

Consider the organizations that you know and admire most:

  • Do they function as collections of human resources or as communities of human beings?
  • Does thinking always come first, or do they see first, and do first, in order to think better?
  • Do they measure like mad or serve with soul?
  • Must they be the best, or do their best?

If you opted for the first set of answers, read this book to discover the second. If you opted for the second set of answers, read this book to cope with those who opted for the first.

From more than 101 blogs, I selected 42 that seem to speak most meaningfully to managers. Books, I am told, need chapters, so I organized these under headings like managing, organizing, analyzing, and so on. I am also told that chapters need introductions, to tell you what the writer is going to tell you. Here I drew the line: no introductions. I prefer that you discover these stories for yourself in whatever order you prefer. I do ask that you read the first story first and the last story last, but otherwise feel free to peruse at random—as good managers sometimes do.

As you turn the pages, I’d like you to wonder what in the world is coming next. I’ll give you a hint: a medley of metaphors. Beside cows and gardens, cutting cookies and scrambling eggs, get ready for the maestro myth of managing, the soft underbelly of hard data, the board as bee, and downsizing as bloodletting. Just try not to be outraged by anything you read because some of my most outrageous ideas turn out to be my best. They just take time to become obvious.

This may be a book about managing, but don’t expect any magic bullets. I leave those to the books that compound the problem. Instead expect unexpected insights to sleep on so that you can rise and shine and, after eating some properly scrambled eggs, charge out to unscramble the messes of managing. You, your colleagues, even your family might just live a little more happily ever after.

Sweet dreams!

© Henry Mintzberg 2019. If you insist on ordering the book, so that you can finally have a good night’s sleep, please click here…quietly.

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