Simply Managing | Henry Mintzberg

Summary of: Simply Managing: What Managers Do – and Can Do Better
By: Henry Mintzberg


Dive into the world of effective management with the book summary of ‘Simply Managing: What Managers Do – and Can Do Better’ by Henry Mintzberg. Discover the importance of the often-underappreciated role of management and learn how successful managers blend art, craft, and science in their approach. This summary will take you through the three planes of management – information, people, and action – and explore the interconnected nature of management and leadership. Get ready to acquire valuable insights on the significance of personal styles, proactive thinking, and reconciling competing imperatives in the world of management.

The Importance of Management in Leadership

In today’s business environment, management skills get overlooked in favor of leadership skills. However, good leaders need to be good managers as well. Management and leadership are not separate, but rather they work together in the larger realm of “communityship”. Managers should focus on building “communities of engagement” that support their company’s work.

Learning to manage is a continual practice that combines the art, craft, and science of drawing on your ideas and insights, utilizing experience, and analyzing what you know. Managers should not feel the need to know all the answers or make all the decisions. Instead, their highest goal should be to bring out the best in other people to learn, decide and act.

By focusing too heavily on leadership, a culture of followers is created, which can hinder successful business operations. In order to achieve success, management and leadership should work in tandem, with management being just as valuable and necessary as leadership.

The Three Planes of Managing

Managing is a demanding job that follows no explicit process, filled with constant interruptions. To understand this chaos systematically, managers need to conceptualize everything they do as residing on one of three planes: the information plane, the people plane, and the action plane.

On the information plane, managers communicate with bosses, subordinates, peers, and outside stakeholders. Interruptions should be valued as they bring essential information that may arrive in no other way. Prioritizing and channeling this information drive behavior, and it all stems from a manager’s framing of purpose and defining issues.

On the people plane, managers lead people, teams, and organizations by using their energy and shaping the company culture over time, tying the interests of the workforce to the needs of the company. Building cooperative groups, addressing conflicts, and linking with those in other departments and outside the firm through persuasion and networking are also significant components.

On the action plane, managers engage in hands-on work, responding to crises with hands-on involvement, and dealing on the outside with the outside world- through contract negotiations, for example. A manager’s credibility and hands-on involvement are sometimes necessary to get a deal done.

By understanding the three planes of managing, managers can create a systematic approach to manage chaos and effectively lead their teams towards success.

Effective Management Skills

Effective managers possess three key qualities: being proactive, avoiding a hierarchical view, and practicing a blend of art, craft, and science. The traditional view of managers on top of the company hierarchy is outdated, and instead, managers should operate within a network or web of lateral relationships throughout the organization. The best managers combine art, craft, and science to create a triangle centered on engagement, vision, ideas, and analysis based on data.

Managing Contradictions

Effective management requires reconciling competing imperatives. This includes overcoming four key challenges: the syndrome of superficiality, the dilemma of delegating, the clutch of confidence, and the ambiguity of acting. To engage in thoughtful reflection and make effective decisions, carve complex issues into smaller parts. Learn from great athletes how to slow down time amid pressure. To avoid frustration when delegating, share information with a deputy and teach them what you know. Exude confidence without arrogance and recruit candid advisers to help during crises. When faced with uncertainty, use good judgment to break decisions into smaller, manageable parts with space for feedback and reassessment. By understanding and managing these contradictions, managers can navigate complex challenges successfully.

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