Henry Mintzberg is one of the blog's favourite management gurus. The reason is that he understands the constraints under which most managers operate. His view is that the best managers aren't Superman or Superwoman, but "are simply ordinary, healthy people who aren't too screwed up".
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, he outlines the 3 ways in which managers make things happen:
• Direct action. "Sometimes managers manage actions directly. They fight fires. They manage projects. They negotiate contracts."
• Via other people. "Managers build and motivate teams, and they enhance the culture and train them and do things to get people to take more effective actions."
• Via influence. "Managers manage information to drive people to take action--through budgets and objectives and delegating tasks and designing organization structure."
Mintzberg's view is that today, we "have much too much managing through information. It doesn't take genius to say: Increase sales or out you go. That's the worst of managing through information. The alternative is to give more attention to the people plane and the action plane. Even when you're managing information, you can manage in a much more nuanced way than just shooting a bunch of figures around."
Mintzberg's new book, 'Managing' has one further tip for managers. In his view, interruptions are a major cause of failing to manage properly, and "email--and especially BlackBerries in the pocket and all that--really makes it much worse".