Book Review: Bedtime Stories for Managers

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Henry Mintzberg is part voice of common sense, part contrarian, and always interesting. Bedtime Stories for Managers is a collection of his blog posts.

Henry Mintzberg is one of the few authors who get me to put down what I’m reading and gaze off into space while I think about what I’ve read. At the end of all that staring and thinking, I sometimes see things in a new way. Other times, I mutter something under my breath because I don’t agree with Mintzberg. My reactions to his ideas often find their way into my journal.

I keep reading him because he’s provocative, insightful, and interesting. That’s why I read this book. I got my money’s worth, even though I’d read several of the posts in earlier versions.

The best way to give you a sense of what you’ll find in this book is to use Mintzberg’s own words. Here are two quotations, starting with the very first paragraph in the book.

“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.”

A few paragraphs later, you’ll find this.

“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 sometimes see first or do first in order to think better?

• Do they measure like mad or serve with soul?

• Must they be the best, or do they 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.”

In A Nutshell

I got everything from Bedtime Stories for Managers I expected. Now I will set it aside and read one of his little essays every week. When I’m done with that, I may just start again. In the meantime, I’ll read his new blog posts.

You can check out some of my highlights and notes from this book on my GoodReads page.


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