Henry Mintzberg Oral History Interviews


Part one

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SCARPINO: As promised, I’m going to start by reading this statement. Today is October 30, 2013. My name is Philip Scarpino, Professor of History and Director of Oral History for the Tobias Center for Leadership Excellence at Indiana University. Today, I have the privilege to be interviewing Dr. Henry Mintzberg in downtown Montreal in a hotel suite in the Fairmont—The Queen Elizabeth Hotel. I’m conducting this interview on behalf of the International Leadership Association and the Tobias Center for Leadership Excellence, and we’re both in attendance at the annual conference of the International Leadership Association.

We’ll include a more detailed biographical summary with the interview, so at this point I will provide an abbreviated overview of Dr. Mintzberg’s career. Henry Mintzberg is presently the Cleghorn Professor of Management Studies at McGill University, Montreal, Canada. He earned his Ph.D. in Management from the Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in 1968, and his Masters from the Sloan School of Management, MIT, in 1965. Since earning his Ph.D. in 1968, he has worked for McGill University with time out for a number of visiting positions including part time at INSEAD, Fountainebleau, France, 1991–1999. Professor Mintzberg has published about 160 scholarly articles and 16 books with a focus on organization, strategy, management, and leadership. One window into the significance of the body of his research is his Google Scholar citation index which shows lifetime 91,886 citations for 469 entries with 37,756 since 2008.

MINTZBERG: Say it again; 37 thousand. . .

SCARPINO: . . . 756 since 2008.

MINTZBERG: Since 2008?


MINTZBERG: Seriously?

SCARPINO: Seriously.

MINTZBERG: There are 97,000 entries and half of them are since 2008, you said?

SCARPINO: Yes. Your lifetime total is 91,886 and since 2008, 37,756.


SCARPINO: (Laughing) You said the appropriate word right there.

MINTZBERG: Don’t people have other things to do?

SCARPINO: It’s amazing. Dr. Mintzberg has earned a number of awards and distinctions—just a few of the highlights: 17 honorary degrees between 1983 and 2012, Officer of the Order of Canada, 1998. He was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, the International Academy of Management, World Academy of Productivity Sciences. He twice earned the McKinsey Prize from the Harvard Business Review for the best article in 1975 and the second best in 1987. And, of course, he is a Leadership Legacy Award winner from the International Leadership Association.

As promised, I’m asking your permission to record this interview, to transcribe this interview, and to deposit the recording in the IUPUI Special Collections and Archives where it may be used by its patrons and also to deposit it with the International Leadership Association and the Tobias Center.


SCARPINO: We’ll get started with the easy questions then. When and where were you born?

MINTZBERG: I was born in Montreal, right here, probably walking distance from where we’re sitting, in 1939. On September 1st, the Germans invaded Poland. On September 2nd, I was born. They took a day off. And on September 3rd, Britain declared war.

SCARPINO: Your parents coordinated all that?

MINTZBERG: Yeah, yeah. (Laughing)

SCARPINO: Where did you grow up?

MINTZBERG: I grew up in Montreal with a mother from New York, so we spent a fair amount of time in New York, but I grew up basically in Montreal, and maybe just as importantly, in the Laurentian Mountains north of here. We always had a place in the country and that’s in my blood and I still have my own place.

SCARPINO: You’re a cross-country skier up there in the Laurentians?

MINTZBERG: I’m a cross-country skier off track, mostly off trail, bushwhacking where we have wide skis and big boots and cables. We go looking for lakes and looking for ridges and crests. We did that for many years every Saturday.

SCARPINO: When you learned to cross-country ski, you were using the kind of skis where you pine tar the bottoms and have 10 or 15 different kinds of wax?

MINTZBERG: Going back, yeah. I went back to those days, except that there was a guy named Jackrabbit Johannsen who created skiing, not just skiing in North America. He was a Norwegian who lived to 113. He brought cross-country skiing here. He also created the first downhill skiing anywhere by hooking up a cable around the flywheel of a car. They came out with a Johannsen Wet and Johannsen Dry, and I threw all the other waxes away. In fact, I still have them. I never look at them. I just did Johannsen Wet and Johannsen Dry.

SCARPINO: I asked you that because I used to be a cross-country skier and I still have all my wax in a box in a closet.

MINTZBERG: So do I, but I never used anything—well first, I don’t use Johannsen Wet because it’s no fun when it’s wet, but I use Johannsen Dry. That’s it.

SCARPINO: Any brothers or sisters?

MINTZBERG: I have one brother who passed away about three years ago.

SCARPINO: Tell me who your parents were.

MINTZBERG: My parents were Mike, or Myer, but Mike was the name he used. He was a dress manufacturer. My mother was Irene from New York who met my father in New York when he was working there. Then they moved back here during the Depression because he got a good job during the Depression. My mother was basically a housewife who loved to write poems and things.

SCARPINO: You said your dad was a dress manufacturer?


SCARPINO: He was a designer?

MINTZBERG: No, no. I mean he owned the dress company. He was in the inside guy. His Irish partner—classic Jewish-Irish—his Irish partner was the outside guy. He ran production and all that. They owned it jointly.

SCARPINO: Were your family practicing Jews?

MINTZBERG: Yeah. There is such a range of practicing Judaism, but yeah. They always belonged to a synagogue and that kind of thing. They weren’t very devout, but my mother kept the house kosher and that kind of thing.

SCARPINO: Did that have any impact on you as you grew up and became a man?

MINTZBERG: I sort of keep marginal ties. I belong to a synagogue here, which is called Reconstruction, so it’s a little bit like Unitarian in a way. That’s not entirely fair. It’s more of a kind of thoughtful Judaism. So, I keep ties. I think being Jewish, being a Montrealer and being Canadian, have all influenced how I view the world in some ways; the fact that I tend to be rather critical. Some people say I’m—what do you call it? Um, a contrarian? I don’t think I’m a contrarian, but some people say that. I think that probably. . .

SCARPINO: (Laughing) I can’t say I have never heard that.

MINTZBERG: Right. I wouldn’t say I’m contrarian. It comes partly from being Jewish because I think there is a long tradition of that, but also being Canadian. Not that Canadians are contrarian at all or critical at all, but we live in a small country against a big neighbor and we’re always very suspicious of our big neighbor the way the Dutch are suspicious of the Germans or the New Zealanders are suspicious of the Australians. I think that has probably had an influence, too, because my mother being American, I’m almost American. Most Canadians are almost American anyway, but I’m more almost American and yet Canadian. So it’s enabled me to see things differently than people in the US mainstream, I think.

SCARPINO: Do you think it’s important for somebody to be able to look at the world through eyes that are different than their own culture?

MINTZBERG: Oh yeah, absolutely. Although, I’m not sure I would say that. I would say I look at the world through eyes different than the dominant culture, which is not our own culture, but the US culture.

SCARPINO: You’re talking about the United States?

MINTZBERG: Yeah. The US culture is so dominant worldwide and, especially, we’re on the frontline.

SCARPINO: Pierre Trudeau used to talk about the United States in terms of sleeping with an elephant.

MINTZBERG: Yeah. He said we’re the mouse and when the elephant rolls over, friendly as it may be, you’re in trouble. There is a bit of that, yeah.

SCARPINO: Do you think that that has really had an influence on the way you look at the world and the way you develop your scholarship and that kind of thing?

MINTZBERG: Yeah. Being Canadian, particularly, and being a Montrealer as well because Montreal is different from Toronto or Vancouver or other places in the sense that it’s a very eclectic culture in Montreal. It’s a very eclectic city. People who want to be in Europe but have to be in North America favor Montreal because it’s kind of the closest you can get. In that sense, you’re raised in a very open, kind of interesting world.

SCARPINO: You think that the openness of Montreal society has had an influence on the way you look at the world and practice your scholarship?

MINTZBERG: Yeah. I mean, you’re the historian so you can answer that question better than I can (Laughing).

SCARPINO: (Laughing) But I’m not supposed to lead the witness.

MINTZBERG: Everything, presumably, has an influence. What that influence is is hard to tell. It’s a question of interpretation, and that’s your job in a way, although I know historians are just supposed to tell it like it is.

SCARPINO: No, we interpret. We interpret.

MINTZBERG: Historian. You’re not allowed to develop theory if you’re a good historian, but some of the most interesting historians develop very interesting theories.

SCARPINO: I’m sure they do. I’m going to ask you a question to see if I can get you to reflect on your childhood and youth. Either this will work or it won’t. Just for the record and for somebody using this interview, I’m going to ask you a series of questions organized around the question: Who is Henry Mintzberg or how did Henry Mintzberg become the person that William Litwack referred to as “Henry Mintzberg” in quotes or the Steven Spielberg of his profession? More broadly, how did you become the person that the Economist referred to as “Guru Henry Mintzberg” or the Harvard Business Review ranked as one of the “50 Most Influential Management Gurus” of all time? Do you think of yourself as a guru heading off in new scholarly directions that people can follow if they want to?

MINTZBERG: I don’t like the word guru. I prefer swami.

SCARPINO: (Laughing) Alright, why?

MINTZBERG: (Laughing) Partly—that’s contrariness—but partly because guru is so misused and overused and has been used for some people who have been very superficial, not all but some. So I’m more of a swami in the sense that I’m an educator and a kind of opener of thought, I hope. What are you asking?

SCARPINO: Do you think of yourself that way?

MINTZBERG: Oh, do I think of myself that way? No. I don’t think of myself—well, do I think of myself as a guru? I guess the sort of broader way of thinking of that question is what influence have I had on other people because that’s, I think, the same question in a way.


MINTZBERG: It’s kind of interesting. Those citation figures are interesting. I haven’t seen them. I know I have influenced many people and I hear from many people. I don’t think I have had sort of a compelling influence on the way things are going since I would say that almost everything I have done or I have proposed—not proposed, but stood for—has been diametrically contradicted or contradicted by what has been going on. In other words, it’s almost as if if I said something, the world will automatically go the other way. Now, I don’t have enough influence for that to happen. I might kid myself into believing that I slowed it down a bit in the sense through questions—questioning things that were happening—but I think there is something going on now. That’s why I’m talking about those figures you cited because I’m getting more and more kind of approaches from different kinds of people. I mean I know that in strategy or general management or whatever, people read my stuff and they know it, but I’m getting all kinds of people in all kinds of ways that—I have no reputation outside of management as far as I’m concerned—but it seems to be getting around somehow. My ideas seem to be getting around; maybe because things are so out of whack right now in my view, and I guess we’ll get back to that. I think things are so out of whack right now that maybe I, as one of people, stand for sort of an alternate way of viewing the world, of viewing management, of viewing organizations, and what I’m working on now, of viewing the whole trend in society.

SCARPINO: I’m going to follow up and ask you an open-ended question, and I know it’s open-ended, but what do you think is out of whack?

MINTZBERG: That’s my pamphlet, my electronic pamphlet called “Rebalancing Society.” In a nutshell, this pamphlet is about the imbalance that is happening increasingly so in society today. I go farther back, but I go back to 1789 when I believe that the US Constitution, in order to counter the effect of royalty, emphasized individual rights at the expense of collective rights. I think America has been on a steady course to imbalance on the side of individual rights. I think in 1989 was a kind of tipping point in the sense that the interpretation of the fall of the communist regimes in Eastern Europe was that capitalism had triumphed. I think balance triumphed in the sense that the Eastern European countries were utterly out of balance on the side of their public sectors and we had balance, more or less, the US—even the US although less so, but still; France, Canada, Germany more so—balance between public, private, and I prefer to call it pleural sector. Call it civil society, whatever you want. But because we misinterpreted that, we have been going steadily—or the US, in particular—has been going steadily out of balance ever since on the side of the private sector. That’s what I’m kind of challenging right now. That’s what I’m writing about right now.

SCARPINO: How do you think Canada has done in terms of that balance?

MINTZBERG: Canada was quite balanced. Our current prime minister is off the scale.

SCARPINO: And in trouble.

MINTZBERG: Right. This week. Couldn’t happen to a more miserable guy. He’s a miserable guy. He’s a bully. He’s in deeper and deeper every day. The more he tries to get out, the deeper he gets, like a swamp. But Canada, itself, has been shifting. To me, it always held the line in terms of not subscribing to a lot of things that were popular in the US. The most obvious example being Medicare, which is sacred in Canada. It’s not just a program. It’s sacred. Even that’s under attack now. Partly it’s quite a right wing government, probably the most right wing government in the Western world, but partly there is a shift in Canada happening. There is a kind of meanness that I find shocking because this is not a country of mean people. It shows up in hockey most obviously in a crazy way, but it shows up in lots of other ways. There are lots of thoughtful, decent Canadians, just as there are lots of thoughtful, decent Americans, but the thoughtful, decent Americans have lost control of their country, I think. You just look at what is going on in Congress and so on. We’re in the first wave, but this is going across the entire country. Now with the trade talks between the EU and the US where the lobbyists are swarming around it, particularly American, and they are forcing a kind of lowest common denominator regulatory system. If the Europeans give in to that, I think that’s a tipping point for them, too, and the world.

SCARPINO: I’m going to back way up and ask you a question, then we’re going to come back to some of these topics. This relates to your childhood and youth and I’m going to set this up for the benefit of anybody who listens to this. In October of 2011, I had the pleasure of interviewing Manfred Kets de Vries at the ILA meeting in London and in prepping for that I read an article that he published in 1994 called “The Leadership Mystique.” You knew him. You worked at INSEAD.

MINTZBERG: We’re friends, yeah.

SCARPINO: He says in this article and I will just read a couple of lines and then I want to see if I can get you to comment on that. He said, “All of us possess some kind of inner theater and are strongly motivated by a specific inner script. Over time, through interactions with caretakers, teachers, and other influential people, this inner theater develops. Our inner theater, in which the patterns that underlie our character come into play, influences our behavior throughout our lives and plays an essential role in the molding of leaders.” So, here is the question: If we use Kets de Vries’ description of inner theater, can you tell me about your inner theater? What is it? Who did you interact with as a youth or what experiences did you have that shaped the person that you are now?

MINTZBERG: I’m not sure I can pinpoint any specific experiences. I see myself as kind of a “why not” person instead of a “why” person in the sense of I kind of like slightly nutty ideas if they’re thoughtful. There are plenty of crazy ideas out there, but I like the idea of breaking away and doing something different and seeing the world a little differently. I have always had that. But I can’t point to any sort of event or mentor or anything like that that pushed me that way. I can’t think of any of that in my past.

SCARPINO: Father or mother?

MINTZBERG: No. My father was more conventional. My mother was very loving and very accepting. I’m not sure she pushed me to think differently. I wouldn’t say that. In fact, the community I was raised in, kind of quite a narrow Jewish community, was not one for thinking differently. I mean, it was one for thinking creatively and all that, but not one for breaking away particularly. It was very narrow. In fact, this community is probably one of the strongest communities in North America in support of Israel, despite the things that I think are going on that shouldn’t be going on, so a fairly conventional, conservative community. But somehow as soon as I hit McGill—in high school, you’re in your geographic community—as soon as I hit McGill, I immediately got involved with all kinds of other people and all kinds of other things, but not because anything dragged me into, but because I was predisposed to it, I guess. There was a turning point actually and you can read about it because I wrote it up. There was a turning point, although I think I was headed there anyway. I did an article in the Harvard Business Review called “Planning on the Left Side and Managing on the Right.” It was about the two hemispheres of the brain and how that kind of influences behavior. I sent that to Herbert Simon who, to me, was the most outstanding management thinker ever—Carnegie Mellon and responsible for a whole new wave of management education that started in the ‘50s at Carnegie and so on. He had become a cognitive psychologist and I thought ‘well, he knows more about this stuff than I do.’ I sent it to him and said, “What do you think?” He wrote back essentially saying it’s bunk. He just dismissed it. He was polite and pleasant and wrote a nice letter, but he basically dismissed it. And then I got a telegram at that point—I was in France—saying we need the article, from the Harvard Business Review, saying we need the article immediately and I had like 24 hours or 48 hours.

SCARPINO: And it wasn’t quite done?

MINTZBERG: It was done.


MINTZBERG: It was done, but should I pull it? The decision rested on whether Simon knew something I didn’t or whether Simon was blocked, and I decided he was blocked. And I never looked back. That correspondence, including my reply to him, is in a book called Mintzberg on Management. There is a little section that has that correspondence, which I think you might find interesting.

SCARPINO: Do you remember approximately when that was?

MINTZBERG: Well, it’s in there. Well, 1976 I think was the publication of that article.

SCARPINO: You actually have two undergraduate degrees. You mentioned McGill, but you attended McGill University here in Montreal, majored in mechanical engineering, 1961 I think you entered?


SCARPINO: McGill was one of two English language universities here at that point?

MINTZBERG: Yeah. Still.

SCARPINO: Why McGill and why mechanical engineering?

MINTZBERG: Probably for no better reason than I liked to take engines apart and put them back together with a few screws missing, so I always had that predisposition. I think I’m kind of like a mechanical engineer. I was at a conference years later, turned out to be with a bunch of mechanical engineers. I hadn’t spent time with those guys since I graduated. It was like 20 years later. They were kooky. We were taking a shortcut through a field and getting mud up to our knees and I thought these guys are as crazy as I am. There must be something about mechanical engineers. So I think I am sort of predisposed; Manfred’s theater script that maybe I’m a mechanical engineer at heart. The one thing that has always been left is I use a lot of graphs and a lot of diagrams in what I write. I don’t think that necessarily comes from mechanical engineering, but it’s probably the reason I went into mechanical engineering. I just have that predisposition.

SCARPINO: Were you one of these teenagers that was in an engine up to his elbows with grease all over his hands?

MINTZBERG: Yeah, sometimes, yeah, particularly outboard motors up in the country. I don’t know why, I just got old ones that nobody wanted and take them apart to look at what’s going on. I forget what I was leading up to. Where were we? Anyway, just my predisposition for—oh, why mechanical engineering?


MINTZBERG: Probably nothing more than that because I never practiced it.

SCARPINO: At the same time that you were at McGill earning your degree in mechanical engineering, you were also busy earning a BA in General Arts from what was then Sir George Williams, now Concordia, in the evenings.

MINTZBERG: Yeah. That was actually sequential because they only required me to do about five courses to get a BA, so I did it while I was working for the Canadian National Railways. I just thought with all this engineering, I should get educated, so I took some English courses and things like that.

SCARPINO: It was just because you wanted a different kind of education?

MINTZBERG: I just wanted to get educated, just to get more broadly educated.

SCARPINO: Sir George Williams at that time was the other English language?

MINTZBERG: Concordia was a merger of Sir George Williams and Loyola.


MINTZBERG: So there were technically three.

SCARPINO: You have lived in Quebec and Montreal most of your life. Do you speak French?

MINTZBERG: Yeah. We can do this in French if you would like.

SCARPINO: No, no, no. (Laughing) I can read French, but my pronunciation is awful.

MINTZBERG: I lecture in French. I think I counted about eight years abroad—just Europe—not counting four years in the US at MIT. About eight years abroad, I think five of those counting summers and everything in France.

SCARPINO: Here you’re, you have taken a degree in mechanical engineering, you then go to work for Canadian National Railways, you’re earning a night degree in a completely area at a different university. At what point did you realize that you really weren’t like most other people?

MINTZBERG: (Laughing) Interesting question. I think the answer to that is from day one, and never.


MINTZBERG: Well, we’re all like each other. I don’t think I’m so much unlike other people in some respects. I mean, we’re all unlike everybody else and we’re all like everybody else. I don’t think I ever reached a point where I kind of thought ‘I’m just a different person.’ There are people like painters or whoever, or maybe Van Gogh kind of realized very early that he just wasn’t like other people. I don’t think psychologically I ever felt I was unlike other people. What I did discover gradually over time is that I have a capacity for synthesis. But there was no moment, it was just sort of built up. I realized that what I do best is synthesize and categorize. I’m a quintessential categorizer.

SCARPINO: I’m just trying to imagine how many other successful people there are who begin their education as an engineer, realize they need further study in the humanities, and then combine the two of those and are willing to work at both of them.

MINTZBERG: Probably some. There are a lot of engineers who have gone on to different—Chomsky is an engineer, isn’t he?

SCARPINO: That’s true.

MINTZBERG: So there are people like that, but actually a few others. What’s his name—a very controversial writer in the US? He is also, I think, a mechanical engineer. Short guy, wrote a book about Marilyn Monroe, very famous guy.

SCARPINO: I know who you mean.

MINTZBERG: Anyway. I think he was an engineer, too, so it happens. I think that turning point with the Simon article sort of took me off a knife edge coming from the analytic side, mechanical engineering, and also working in operations research, which was very analytic, and just kind of having that predisposition to—in fact, the only thing I would ever I think repudiate what I wrote is a chapter of my first book that’s a very mechanistic view of managerial work. I never wrote anything like that since. But, there was this kind of analysis intuition thing and I think after that Simon correspondence, it kind of legitimized my own sense of going on the other side and being much more open to things like intuition.

SCARPINO: A mechanistic view of management; is that something that was influenced by what you were reading at the time or who you were studying?

MINTZBERG: Yeah, at MIT. It was kind of like sort of a series of programs or flow charts for describing managerial work. Now I have a collection of notes for a book I want to do eventually called What I Really Think. That probably reveals more than anything because I think all kinds of things that I’m not supposed to think, not that it gets in my harm’s way. People say I’m very courageous. I’m not courageous. I’ll sit in my basement and write outrageous things. That’s not courageous. People who are on battlefields or dealing with the wounded or whatever are courageous.

SCARPINO: There are different kinds of courage.

MINTZBERG: Yeah. But I don’t think it takes much courage to write things that people say “Oh boy, that’s not conventional.” I don’t think that takes much courage. For example, the way I’m going to open that book is by quoting an article that appeared in the New York Times about the equinox. It was an article by a proper academic, obviously, about all the mysticism and other things that go with the equinox. And at one point he writes, “People even think you can set eggs on their end during the equinox. Can you imagine that?” This is like lobbing me a ball that I can hit over the fence. So I wrote to him and I said “Well, have you ever tried?” After all this is the most testable. . .

SCARPINO: Right, right.

MINTZBERG: . . .experiment you can possibly do. I do it every equinox. I’m not joking with you. I do it every equinox. Maybe you should try it. Then at the end I said “but don’t tell your friends” because he is obviously a very pretentious academic. So I’m going to open with this story and I’m going to talk about the pretentiousness of those scientists who believe that everything that hasn’t been discovered can’t possibly exist. So I have no hesitation at all in setting eggs up on their end and flaunting it. So here we go. I’ll find them for you. I used to have them on this screen, but I took it off. Not that I mind having it on this screen. Anyway, keep talking and I will find you the eggs.

SCARPINO: No. He is looking at the screen on his phone for the picture of the eggs on end. I actually wanted to ask you to talk briefly, when you got your undergraduate degree you went into operational research for Canadian National Railway. What did you do there? What were you doing for Canadian National Railway?

MINTZBERG: I was fishing in a hump yard mostly.

SCARPINO: You were doing what?

MINTZBERG: I was fishing in a hump yard.

SCARPINO: So what does that mean? Oh my goodness, there it is.

MINTZBERG: That’s on our stove at home.

SCARPINO: Now, does it only work on the equinox?

MINTZBERG: It works on the Chinese New Year. No, I kid you not. I once said to somebody about this and they said, “Yeah it works on the Chinese New Year, too,” which it does. It works three days a year; a bit more because you can usually do it a little bit before and after.

Operations research—it was operational research, which is the British term—and operations research, the American term. But the Americans like Arnoff and Ackoff and Churchman and those people took it much more—especially Ackoff—took it much more into a toolkit, a bag of tools, whereas for the Brits it was just creative problem solving using numbers and using analytical thinking. So we had a hump yard. A hump yard is where you re-sort the cars as they come off. They back the car up and they release the cars one by one over a little hill and then calculate the exit speed necessary for that car to go on any one of 80 tracks to couple with the other cars to go out, so each track would have a train going to a different place. Well, it wasn’t working. It was chaos because the measurements were just too—it was an analog computer—but it was much too sophisticated and it wasn’t working. Either the cars would come short, which would use up track and create problems, or they would smash into each other at 12 miles an hour. I saw cars saying “Chinaware, do not hump” smashing. So they sent me out to the hump yard with a fishing rod and the fishing rod had a magnet on the end. As one car was approaching, I was sort of sampling, I would put the magnet on the car, it would come out, there was a speedometer and I would record the speed. Then I did a histogram which should have looked like from 2 to 4 or 5 miles an hour like this. Instead, there was a big 0 miles an hour. It never made it and then this thing went up to about 12 miles an hour. If you want to find out how organizations work, watch a boxcar hitting another boxcar at 12 miles an hour. That’s very impressive. There were coupling gear all over the yard and all. The vice president—I was just a kid—the vice president in charge of research who I worked for through the OR group and reported to—there was a meeting of vice presidents, and the head of the St. Lawrence region was at that meeting praising his yard. This other guy threw this histogram in front of him and said, “Here, this is what’s going in your yard.” That was the thing I most remember doing at the Canadian National Railway. So they were very creative people.

SCARPINO: Were you able to help them? Did your work fix the problem?

MINTZBERG: I didn’t last that long to find out. I was just sort of a flunky sent out to—I’m not a flunky—the new kid on the block sent out to check what the speeds were. I worked with very creative people. One guy, he is always a good friend, John Gratwig, and it’s a long story, but he was going to get rid of engines altogether and have these mushrooms installed on tracks. They actually came up with these mushrooms—somebody in the UK came up with these mushrooms—where if a car hit the mushroom at too low a speed, it would let the car go by but boost it on the way up. If it came at too fast a speed, it would put resistance and slow it down. So this guy thought we could install these mushrooms across 22,000 miles of track and get rid of engines; just send the cars out one at a time. That’s the kind of creative thinking that was going on there.

SCARPINO: I was going to ask you what you learned from this experience before you moved on. The value of creativity?

MINTZBERG: You also learn about the fact that you can be creative and you can come up with outrageous ideas. You’re going to get slapped down by someone, but I didn’t get raised in a bureaucrat environment that said protect your rear end. When I went to vocational testing in high school, mechanical sort of things came up top, so they said I should be an accountant. Why? Because a good Jewish boy shouldn’t be an engineer, he should be an accountant. So for a couple of weeks I walked around—I think there was a company called Ross, Ross, Ross, and Ross and a friend of mine said it’s going to be called Ross, Ross, Ross, Ross, and Mintzberg. But anyway, I walked around for about two weeks and at the end of two weeks I thought what kind of nonsense is this? I can’t think of anything less suited to me than accounting, so I went into mechanical engineering. So I did have the courage to sort of not go with the flow kind of thing.

SCARPINO: You left the Canadian Railroad in 1963. You went on to do graduate work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Masters in 1965, Ph.D. in 1968.

MINTZBERG: Yeah. I actually didn’t want to go to business school at all. I didn’t want to be involved with those guys. I always wanted to do industrial engineering, but McGill didn’t have it so I did mechanical engineering. Then I applied to NYU and got in, in industrial engineering. Then I was in New York and I called to ask if I could see some people and they gave me a run around and I said this isn’t good. So I applied to Columbia, got in there. Then on a lark, I applied to MIT. It was called a Master of Science. It wasn’t called an MBA at that time. I spoke to a really lovely guy named Sebastian B. Littauer who was running the industrial engineering department at Columbia and I said “I got into MIT” and he said, “Go there, they’ll do much better for you.” It was one of these wonderful turning points. So I went there. Then I swung over completely to the other side, you know, away from the OR sort of analytical side.

SCARPINO: So you really kind of stumbled into MIT as opposed to. . .?

MINTZBERG: I think I probably stumbled into most everything that worked, yeah.

SCARPINO: You wrote a dissertation titled The Manager at Work. . .

MINTZBERG: I mean I stumbled and I didn’t. I did apply to MIT.

SCARPINO: I know that, but I mean you didn’t—there was not a straight line from McGill to MIT.

MINTZBERG: No, no, exactly.

SCARPINO: I didn’t mean that in a pejorative sense.

MINTZBERG: No, no, no. I know. No, no, no. I accept that I stumbled into it, but I think there was some—you know what Isaac Bashevis Singer said about free will? He said, “You’ve got to believe in free will. You’ve got no choice.”

SCARPINO: That’s right.

MINTZBERG: Things happen and opportunities happen. You never know why. You bump into the right people and things work out perfectly or whatever, but you also kind of set them up, too. Or at least you open up the possibilities that these things can happen.

SCARPINO: I’m going to read the title of your dissertation to get it in the work: The Manager at Work—Determining his Activities, Roles, and Programs by Structured Observation, which with additional work became your first book, The Nature of Managerial Work in 1973?

MINTZBERG: Yeah. See the programs is the part I was talking about earlier.

SCARPINO: What I was actually interested in was the part about the observational study of managers at work.

MINTZBERG: I remember my advisor telling me that a thesis has to be elegant.


MINTZBERG: I always prided myself in the fact that my thesis was not elegant. The results may have been elegant, but the method—he was referring to the method—the method wasn’t elegant. I have written a number of pieces on research, kind of boasting about the fact that I prefer inelegant methods, because people get so caught up discussing statistical tests and everything else. At one point I said “What’s wrong with a sample of one?” Piaget studied his own children.

SCARPINO: So for the benefit of somebody who might listen to this recording and be way outside of your field, could you just very briefly explain what structured observation is and then I want to follow up on that?

MINTZBERG: Yeah. It’s nothing very fancy. It just means that you’re observing. You’re a fly on the wall. In this case observing managers. So you’re a fly on the wall. You’re following them around for a week. And structured in the sense that I had all these categories that I—you know I was writing down the duration of activities, who they were with, what the subject matter was, all that kind of thing. So in a way it was observation, but entering the data in kind of structured categories as well as taking notes about the general …

SCARPINO: Was structured observation an accepted method in that field at that time?

MINTZBERG: I think I coined the term.

SCARPINO: That’s what I’m asking you without trying to …

MINTZBERG: Okay. Yeah, yeah. I think I used that term. To that point, there were almost no studies of managerial work, almost none. There was a woman in England named Rosemary Stewart who was doing diary studies. She was studying the written diary but, of course, you miss a lot of the informal stuff that way because a lot of things happen that aren’t put in a diary.

SCARPINO: So there were few managerial studies. . .

MINTZBERG: Almost none.

SCARPINO: . . .and no one was doing what you called structured observation?

MINTZBERG: Not that I came across. They were also doing activity sampling where when a bell went off they would write down what they are doing or something. Nobody to my mind was doing structured observation. Not a big thing. I mean, it’s obvious. If you want to find out what managers do, just go look.

SCARPINO: Well, it was obvious to you, but no one else was doing it. What led you down that path?

MINTZBERG: Oh well, actually, that story is articulated somewhere. James Webb was running NASA at the time and he wanted to be studied because he thought he had some secrets to management. He knew people at the Sloan School in MIT, so he approached them with this idea. There was no policy department. There was no general management department. There was nothing. I wanted to do my doctorate in what was called policy, or strategy now, and there was no professor of strategy. There was no department of strategy. But MIT is a wonderful “live and let live” kind of place, like the OR department at the Canadian National. I guess I always sort of ended up in places like that now that I think about it. Of course, it’s the engineering sort of orientation, too. I’m sure about that.

SCARPINO: But they were willing to give you that creative license?

MINTZBERG: Yeah. Absolutely. So Webb invited the bunch of them to go in his plane to tour all the facilities. There was only one doctoral student who was remotely interested in anything like that, so they invited me along. We went to Cape Canaveral and we met Wernher von Braun and we had a great trip. I got back and said “Look, this is crazy. I can’t study this guy for a Ph.D. thesis at MIT.” So I tried to do something else and it didn’t get anywhere. I was going to do a thesis on strategic planning, believe it or not, which I ended up criticizing in another book. By that time, Webb was involved in politics and unavailable so I found five other people to study and I observed them.

SCARPINO: You basically developed this method of structured observation?

MINTZBERG: Yeah, yeah. I don’t take much credit for that one. I think it’s pretty straightforward.

SCARPINO: Did it catch on?

MINTZBERG: Let’s face it, that’s what anthropologists do.

SCARPINO: I was going to say that. It does sound a little bit like the methodology in anthropology.

MINTZBERG: Yeah. It’s kind of anthropologic. Sure, sure, sure. People have pointed that out.

SCARPINO: But did you know that at the time?

MINTZBERG: No. No. I had not probably read a single article in anthropology at that point. I had read Geertz later, but no, I hadn’t read anything like that.

SCARPINO: Did that method then catch on in your field?


SCARPINO: Nobody? Have you continued to do it?

MINTZBERG: A little bit. I did it. Yeah. I studied these five people in ’68 and then—or ’67 I guess. Then many years later in the mid to late ’90s, I observed 29 managers for a day each. So, my sample is not 29 managers, it’s 29 managerial days. My book, Managing, and now a short version that I call Simply Managing is based significantly on that. So I did go back and do that. It was not structured observation. It was more observation. I was just writing down things more or less informally.

SCARPINO: When you were in graduate school, who were the gurus? Who were the people, the must-reads?

MINTZBERG: Simon, Simon, and Simon. March was starting. Well, March had done some earlier books with Simon that were important. Cyert. They were with that whole Carnegie crowd. Levitt was kind of big—at Stanford—was kind of big in organizational behavior. In operations research, you had the Churchman, Arnoff, Ackoff book and those people. Igor Ansoff wrote a book in 1965 on strategic planning. I’m trying to think. There were Harvard people. Andrews’ book on strategy, Ken Andrews. He wrote a book, but also they did the case book; a bunch of them together, Joe Bower, Andrews, and all those people. Probably a lot of others I can’t think of.

SCARPINO: At what point did you begin to realize that you disagreed with much of the received wisdom?

MINTZBERG: Right from the beginning, I think. I mean the beginning of my academic career. Certainly my thesis was a very harsh critique of conventional view of managing as planning, organizing, coordinating, and controlling from Fayol. Then, Kunce and O’Donnell and all those people, they were the Principles of Management people that I was very critical of because it just did not match with what I saw in that office. Right from the beginning, I’m looking at this saying “my God, what’s going on here? This is nothing like what you read.”

SCARPINO: For the benefit, again, of somebody who is going to listen to this recording or read the transcript and they are really not in your field, what was the nature of your critique? What were the key elements?

MINTZBERG: In managerial work?

SCARPINO: Yeah, yeah.

MINTZBERG: That managers get interrupted a lot, that they jump from one thing to another, that the job is largely oral. They don’t do a lot of reading. That it’s very action oriented. Go, go, go. Do, do, do. No time to be thoughtful, that kind of thing.

SCARPINO: So here you are; you write this dissertation, you defend your dissertation, you’re going to launch a career as a young scholar. Did you ever worry about swimming against the academic current?


SCARPINO: Never? No concern at all?

MINTZBERG: Not for a minute.


MINTZBERG: I don’t think that ever entered my head. But I will tell you how I got tenure, if you want. I took a sabbatical in France, in Aix-en-Provence, and we stayed a second year because we were having such a good time and they paid—in France—for the second year. The dean called. I can’t remember if it was the first year or the second year. He said “Congratulations, you got tenure.” I said “Oh, I didn’t even know I was up for tenure.”

SCARPINO: No dossier, no letters?

MINTZBERG: Nothing. You could say McGill was sloppy. I don’t think McGill is sloppy. I think McGill is a very tolerant place.

SCARPINO: That was the common procedure in those days, too, as well I think.

MINTZBERG: I guess it was a much less formal procedure. A colleague of mine just did a 100-page dossier for her tenure review, which I think is completely nuts. So, I set out to write a book right away.


MINTZBERG: If you look at my publication of articles at the start, by the time—if I had to go up for a five-year tenure review or six-year tenure review now—just at the edge of it I had a Harvard Business Review McKinsey Prize Winner. But, of course, that doesn’t count because that’s not an A journal.

SCARPINO: Is that right?

MINTZBERG: For proper academics. I had some refereed publications, but not a lot. I probably would have got tenure, but it would have been marginal. I spent my time writing a book called The Nature of Managerial Work, or at least revising my thesis.

SCARPINO: We talked a little earlier when the recording was off about the fact that you hired a young man to basically help you edit your dissertation, and it was William Litwack.

MINTZBERG: Yeah. It was grammatical kind of. I remember by the way—this is a cute anecdote—I was up north and I was working on it. My mother was kind of helping me a bit, too, and she kept saying, “Henry, what about this? Henry, what about this?” and I was doing something and I said “Mom, just put ACK in the margin.” She said “ACK?” And I said “Yeah, awkward, awkward.”

SCARPINO: Awkward.

MINTZBERG: I was a good engineer.

SCARPINO: Okay. So I’m going to ask you a couple of questions and the first one is: When you started out, were you a good writer?

MINTZBERG: Ask Bill that question.


MINTZBERG: He said no. I’m sure he said no.

SCARPINO: I don’t know if I should betray a confidence. He did say no.

MINTZBERG: Of course he said no. I think I had a certain flair, but Bill would be concerned about misuse of words, terrible grammar, all that, and in that sense he was absolutely right. Yesterday, he was picking up words and telling me “That’s a misuse of that word. That’s not what you mean.” So I still do that, but much less often now.

SCARPINO: He told me he yells at his clients. Did he yell at you?

MINTZBERG: His clients? He yells at me more than anybody. Are you kidding? I was once with a friend and Bill was—she couldn’t believe—by this time my reputation was established, and she was a professor of business, and she couldn’t believe this guy is screaming at me about how this is wrong and that’s wrong. He’s the only one who ever did it that way. I have had—like Nan Stone, when she was editor of the Harvard Business Review, edited my piece “Crafting Strategy” and she was brilliant, but she never yelled at me.

SCARPINO: I have read enough of your work to—I think your writing is quite elegant—but did you. . .

MINTZBERG: Most of it is not edited.

SCARPINO: . . .did you have to work hard at becoming a good writer? That’s the question that I’m after? Was it a skill that you had to develop over a period of time?

MINTZBERG: Bill would say yes, but I think writing came naturally to me. I just needed to smooth out a lot of rough edges. I don’t think I became a good writer. I think I probably had a predisposition to be able to say things in ways that were compelling to some people, but I think what I needed to learn is how to just—it was very, very sloppy. It’s like making a nice piece of furniture, but it’s very rough until you bring the sandpaper.

SCARPINO: What do you think the secret to good writing is? Effective writing?

MINTZBERG: I’m not sure if it’s everybody’s secret, but I write for myself. Bill notwithstanding, I am my own harshest critic, much harsher than Bill. I can show you by now maybe 15 drafts of this pamphlet I’m working on, and you will see stuff slashed out, crossed out, all over the place from beginning to end. I remember once reading that there are poets who write it all down, and there is a poem that went through 93 drafts. I’m like the second kind.

SCARPINO: The 93 drafts poet?

MINTZBERG: Yeah. I just revise and revise and revise and revise until it just reads right to me. If it doesn’t read right to me, I just keep revising.

SCARPINO: I understand you write in longhand?


SCARPINO: Don’t use a computer?

MINTZBERG: No. It goes to Santa and then I correct on hard copy and it goes back to Santa. Maybe by the last draft, I’ll enter it myself. Occasionally, I’ll do—I did something, a piece on Japan, about the 10 lost years. I think I did that straight on the computer. I can do it, but I find the computer takes over. Your keyboard takes over. Writing is about integrating. Writing is taking a phenomenon that’s not linear unless it’s a diary and putting it in linear form. Whatever you’re writing about is not linear. Managerial work is not linear, but a book on managerial work has a first word and a last word and all the words in between, except for diagrams give you a bit more flexibility, but otherwise it’s all linear.


MINTZBERG: So the hard part of writing is to express something that’s not linear in linear form. That’s the hardest part of writing. So outlines matter. I forget what I was about to say, but to me that’s the key to—your question was learning about writing, but what did you ask?

SCARPINO: I asked you two questions. I said, “Did you have to learn to become a good writer, and what would you say would be the secret to effective writing?”

MINTZBERG: Yeah. I guess it’s to convey a nonlinear phenomenon in linear order, but also to be able to come to a turn of phrase that kind of engages people.

SCARPINO: Is that where the humanist meets the engineer? Finding that turn of phrase?

MINTZBERG: Yeah. You could say the linear order is the engineer. Yes. I never thought about it that way, but yeah. And the turn of phrase is a very intuitive thing. It happened yesterday, or this morning I think, sometimes I’m writing and I’m searching for a word and it pops into my head and I write it down and I sort of think, ‘well, I’m the medium.’ I sort of say thank you, like wherever this is coming from. Now there was a guy, an uneducated guy in Brazil, who ostensibly wrote about 150 books, each of them in the style of some dead scientist. So he wrote books about chemistry and all these things. The only possible explanation is that he is some kind of medium through which they are publishing their unpublished books. If you think of that, it’s crazy, but why is it crazy? Why isn’t it possible? I’m not a mystic, but I do say there are lots of things we don’t understand, so why can’t that be possible? Why not? How do dogs find their way home 500 miles? They don’t smell it.


MINTZBERG: There is something going on and there are these phenomena, like eggs going up on their end and all that. I’m not sure I’m a medium for everything I do. I think a lot about what I’m writing, but I do get these things popping into my head. There was a book called The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind and the only thing incomprehensible is the title. The rest of the book is actually quite easy to read, as I recall. It basically says that there was a time that God spoke directly to us. This is our perception. Then it became that God spoke to our leaders, like Moses or Jesus, and then there was a time when God spoke to our ancestors, like Moses and Jesus, and that’s where we are now. But we almost call that intuition, like if we’re getting this information or these ideas, we’re assuming we’re very clever, but who knows? So I’m not running around promoting this idea, but I’m just saying “yeah, why not?” It’s as good a hypothesis as any other.

SCARPINO: When you got Litwack to look at your dissertation and your book, he was a relatively young man. We were talking earlier before when the recorder was off about how young, but certainly early twenties.

MINTZBERG: Early twenties.

SCARPINO: We also mentioned Jonathan Gosling, who when you first encountered him was a relatively young person as an assistant professor.

MINTZBERG: Not that young. It was much later. I met Jonathan around, maybe 1992, 1993, something like that. He was probably in his thirties, I think.

SCARPINO: But at the beginning of his career, though, right? He was an assistant professor?

MINTZBERG: He was on the faculty at Lancaster University. I’m not sure how much earlier he came there. But he had done a number of things in life before, ran NGOs and things.

SCARPINO: I was really struck by the fact that you were willing to trust your dissertation and your first book to such a young person, even if it was just technical editing. Do you think that one of the things that stood out about your career is that you have the ability to identify young talent and work with it?

MINTZBERG: Yeah, maybe. My doctoral students have been a very interesting group of people. Right now, we have a doctoral student who has just turned 30, and we have him teaching executives as a doctoral student. He has never done it before. Well, he might have done it in some ways. He is a member of the committee—we’re doing a MOOC now—and he is part of the committee that’s doing this MOOC. Yesterday, he came up with a question. I only remember once in my entire life this happening before, where somebody asked a question that absolutely startled me and sent me in another direction. That happened yesterday, maybe not as significant. The first time was when I was working on my book on different forms of organizing. I had all these categories, like different machine organizations and different things, combining all these elements of organizations. And by the way, I think that’s my most coherent book, The Structuring of Organizations, or Structuring Fives is the short form. This doctoral student at NOL came up to me and said “Are you playing jigsaw puzzle or Lego with these elements?” It just hit me; what a fabulous question because I was playing jigsaw puzzle, putting together like Chinese things where you put together four forms. And he is saying these could be building blocks. It really set me on another course in that book. Yesterday, we were designing our MOOC which is about social initiatives for groups. We’re calling it a GROOC, a GROOC MOOC. So yesterday we were outlining sort of the sessions we want to do and all that. We had this whiteboard and we had great big letters of mobilizing for action and funding and these nice things. And Carlos, Peruvian guy, sitting, writing at the corner of the blackboard; little tiny thing, not saying a word, just writing. Then he says suddenly “Well, we’re a social initiative in developing this MOOC and what if we were taking this MOOC, would this be helping us to do what we’re now doing?” He said, “We’re six months into this and we’re nowhere or at least we’ve just started and we want to do this in 12 weeks for other groups?” Everybody stopped, like ‘oh, my god.’ It’s like ‘wow’ and it just got us completely breakthrough thinking about we’ve got to rethink how we’re doing this, why we’re doing this, what we’re doing totally if we’re going to get through. Most MOOCs, you just come in and film somebody giving nice lectures and you put in some nice graphics and that’s the MOOC on elements of chemistry. It’s easy enough. You’ve done it all your life, you’re a great professor of chemistry so they come in and film you. We’re trying to engage the audience in groups and we’re sort of thinking all this stuff on the board is not going to engage the audience in groups. We’d better rethink this. So here is Carlos, barely 30, doctoral student, brilliant, absolutely brilliant.

SCARPINO: Just because he has been complimented by his professor in what is going to be a public forum, what is Carlos’ last name?

MINTZBERG: His last name? Carlos Rueda.

SCARPINO: For the benefit of somebody who doesn’t know and is using this interview, what is a MOOC?

MINTZBERG: Massive Open Online Course. These things have become very popular at Harvard and MIT and Stanford, where you open the course up to people around the world so 150,000 sign up and 10,000 finish.

SCARPINO: On your CV, your curriculum vitae, you have got a category called “Other Positions” in which you list a variety of really impressive activities. I will just mention “Founding Partner, Coaching Ourselves,” 2007 to the present, but right at the bottom of that section of your CV you write, and I’m quoting, “I belong to no political party and never have.” What does that say about you? Why is that there, first of all, and what does that say about you?

MINTZBERG: One of the reasons I put that in is the liberals once listed me as a party member.

SCARPINO: Oh (Laughing). They appropriated you.

MINTZBERG: Does it mean I don’t want to engage myself? I think I engage myself. There was this joke about this old lady in Maine who says “I never vote. It only encourages them.”

SCARPINO: I have heard that with different states plugged in.

MINTZBERG: It was a good one.


MINTZBERG: You sort of picture her up in the bush somewhere. I certainly don’t relate to political parties. I’m not very keen on young people who join political parties unless they are very left wing because I think when you’re young you should be sowing your wild oats. It’s a kind of very establishment mentality, too, which if I’m nothing, I am consistently sort of anti-establishment. Although people would say I’m establishment, but I’m not—there is kind of an establishment mentality and there is sort of a non-establishment mentality. Being Canadian, particularly, I’m sort of not part of—although there are plenty of Canadian establishment people, but Canadians in general are sort of underdogs.

SCARPINO: But they all live in Ottawa, right?

MINTZBERG: They are all in Ottawa and Bay Street in general and Calgary, especially Calgary these days with the oil business. I think that’s just a reflection that I’m not a fan of kind of conventional politics, which I think go nowhere for the most part these days.

SCARPINO: There was one other thing that struck me about your CV. You have a really impressive list of accomplishments and publications. You have a category right at the top of your CV called “Background Information” and there is a little bit of background about you, but then it says “Father of Susie and Lisa, grandfather of Laura, Thomas, and Maya.” Again, it’s on your CV, so how important are your children and their children?

MINTZBERG: I’m very close to my two daughters, both of them. Lisa is in London. Susie is here. We see each other a lot. Over time, it gets warmer and warmer I think, so we’re very close. Susie just started a doctoral program in social work linked to psychiatry. We’re very close and the kids are wonderful. Those three grandchildren are wonderful. They are Susie’s kids.

SCARPINO: Did it change your life to become a grandfather?

MINTZBERG: No. No, probably not. I wouldn’t say it changed my life. I love it. I love the kids, but I wouldn’t say it changed my life.

SCARPINO: I, in the interest of full disclosure, will tell you that I talked to three people with your permission about you; Santa Rodriguez, Leslie Breitner, and William Litwack. They all had their own points of view and they were all very helpful, but they all agreed on some of the qualities that have made you successful. Right at the top of everyone’s list was focus, self-discipline, and hard work. They said it differently, but they all said it. Litwack remembered that when your children were quite young every morning you would go in a room in your basement and put a sign on the door that said something like “don’t disturb daddy.” He also said that you were the person who put in the work on research and on drafting and re-drafting until you got your prose and your argument exactly the way you wanted them. So do you see focus and discipline and hard work as part of your core of who you are?

MINTZBERG: Yeah, yeah. I’m a Virgo. Virgos are obsessive compulsive often. I once tried to learn to sail on a windsurf. After I climbed up the thirtieth time, somebody said “You’re compulsive,” and I said, “No, I’m tenacious.” We asked a friend what the difference was and he said the spelling.

SCARPINO: Did you really have a sign on the door saying “don’t disturb daddy” or something like that?

MINTZBERG: I don’t remember. What I do remember—they were in school after a while anyway, but what I do remember is we rented a farmhouse in the Perigeau region of France for many summers and I have one wonderful picture of the kids appearing at the window, which I took a picture. Lisa is barely above the window sill like that and Susie is about like this. Then I took the same picture about three years later and Lisa is up there and Susie is up there, always interrupting daddy.

SCARPINO: Each of the people I talked to and a lot of what I read also described you as intensely skeptical of received wisdom. Do you think of yourself that way?

MINTZBERG: Well you see, I don’t think of myself as a contrarian because so much received wisdom is just nonsense, but not all of it.

SCARPINO: (Laughing) I will bite—who gets to decide?

MINTZBERG: I can make the case. I will give you an example. Capitalism triumphed in 1989. Nonsense! Nonsense. Capitalism is a way of raising money for enterprises.

SCARPINO: It is, isn’t it?

MINTZBERG: There is a lot more to the American or any other economy than capitalism. Capitalism didn’t triumph. A balanced society triumphed. Often I see everybody marching in one direction—I’m trying to think of other examples—and I say “They’re all wrong.” Every single one of them is wrong.” I’m trying to think. Maybe some examples will hit me. You could say, nothing to do with me, but sort of Heil Hitler in Germany kind of thing, but 67% of the Quebec population favors this dastardly legislation here. Have you been reading about this with the charter of values in Quebec? Sixty-seven percent of the population favors that, as if having a policeman with a Sikh turban on his head is going to do them great harm. I would like to know what proportion of that 67% has ever met a Muslim.


MINTZBERG: Now, that’s not going against received wisdom because anybody—thinking people in Quebec and elsewhere—are totally opposed to this. I’m not. I’m in the mainstream, not of the 67% but of. . .

SCARPINO: But of the thinking people?

MINTZBERG: . . .but of the thinking people in Quebec. So it’s not a good example. I’m trying to think because so often people will jump on the bandwagon in the US about something. Some things will occur to me. But where you see—again I was hardly alone, but it occurred to me very early that—Well, one bandwagon effect was certainly the Iraq war where even the New York Times and Washington Post would get aboard that bandwagon, and it seemed pretty obvious. It was not obvious that they had or did not have nuclear weapons, but it was certainly there for the seeing that the New American Century—have you ever looked at that document?


MINTZBERG: Signed by Rove and that whole gang. They were talking about going after Iraq years before. They were obsessed with attacking Iraq. It was just on the agenda. It had nothing to do with…

SCARPINO: I had a question I was going to ask you about that and I’m going to pull it up right now, which is why I turned the pages. March 20, 2003, the United States under President George W. Bush invaded Iraq. February 20, 2003, you published an article in the Toronto Globe and Mail, which for Americans and others listening is like Canada’s newspaper. The article was titled, “But Mr. Bush, Why Now?” You speculated on the likely cost of such a war including more terrorism, political instability, economic depression, and wholesale death. I’m going to read a line from this because I think it’s so cool and because I want to listen.

MINTZBERG: I don’t even remember that.

SCARPINO: Then I will refresh your memory.

MINTZBERG: Is that on my list of articles, by the way?

SCARPINO: No. I searched until I found this.

MINTZBERG: I’m going to put that on because I think I left it out.

SCARPINO: I’ll give you this. It’s on your CV under “Other.” You concluded and you said, “Choose any or all of the above. But add in a good dose of ideological groupthink, that mindless collective drive toward a flawed course of action. This happened before in America, most notably in the 1960s when the greatest brain trust ever put together in an administration couldn’t distinguish between a nationalist movement from a communist one. Groupthink also occurred in the 1950s when a paranoid senator named Joe McCarthy managed to take control of the American political agenda for a time. Then, too, it was communism. Or was it? Now it’s terrorism. Or is it?”

MINTZBERG: That’s well written, isn’t it?

SCARPINO: This is lovely.

MINTZBERG: I can’t believe I wrote that.

SCARPINO: It’s got your name on it. I’m wondering, how do you assess ideological groupthink in terms of leadership and management?

MINTZBERG: Oh yeah. Shareholder value.

SCARPINO: Can you talk about that a bit?

MINTZBERG: That’s a perfect example. It was nonsense from the first day, absolute nonsense, and it became such a cult. The idea that companies exist for day traders, for example, who buy in the morning and sell in the afternoon, and employees there for 25 years doesn’t count, but a day trader owns the company. Obviously they own the company the way ownership is defined, but to exclude everybody else. We did an article called “Beyond Selfishness” with Bob Simons who used to be one of my doctoral students. He is Chair in Accounting at Harvard and another guy, Kunal Basu. We talked about two statements from the business round table, a business round table of the most prominent American chief executives. The first statement was maybe ‘81 or ‘82, and it basically said the corporation exists for various stakeholders. Then comes this new statement, I think in ‘87 or maybe later, whenever it was, that said that not only did the corporation only exist for the shareholders, but if it existed for any other people, management would have no basis for making decisions about the allocation of resources. I said “Yeah, that’s true, no basis except judgment.” What these people are saying is there is no more judgment in the executive suites of the American corporations. Now Jack Welsh, who is on record in recent years as saying that shareholder value is the dumbest idea ever, but Jack Welsh, as I understand it, not only was a member of that business round table group but champion of that statement. He, of course, doesn’t have to look back or apologize or anything. He just changed his mind, so he is writing new things now. Can you trust him with the new ones if you couldn’t trust him with the old ones? Michael Jensen, who has found truth and everything and is a nice guy who really does care, seems to care. He wrote a piece on shareholder value, and he is probably more responsible for shareholder value than anybody else. After the damage was done, he reneges saying that—and by the way, let me say something about the finance guy in the US in a minute—but in that piece they tell a story—Jensen and Meckling article—they tell a story about George Bernard Shaw on a boat crossing the ocean and saying to this famous actress “Would you sleep with me for a million dollars?” And she said “Of course.” And he said, “Well, how about ten dollars?” You know the story. And she said, “Who do you think I’m?” He said, “We’ve determined that. We’re haggling about the price.” They follow that up with a statement something like, “Like it or not we all have our price.” Jensen taught the most popular elective course at Harvard for years. He was teaching students that everybody is a whore. That’s what he was teaching students. I’m sure Skilling was in that class. Everybody is a whore. That’s what they were doing.

SCARPINO: The Skilling of Enron?

MINTZBERG: Skilling of Enron. Now what’s his name—what is the name of the guy who ran the Fed, the most famous American economist? He is retired now.

SCARPINO: I know, um. . .

MINTZBERG: He was interviewed on radio yesterday on CBC. He has just come out with a new book.

SCARPINO: Well, for right now, we’ll say that he was the former head of the Fed because it’s rattling around on the edge of my brain here.

MINTZBERG: With a G, hey? Greenwald or Greenspan. Greenspan.

SCARPINO: Greenspan. Alan Greenspan. Yes.

MINTZBERG: So he has discovered his mistake. His mistake sounds like something really obscure. He describes it in a weird way and I’m thinking that’s not your mistake. Your mistake is that you were captured by a dogma and weren’t smart enough to see past your dogma, your Chicago economic dogma. That’s your mistake. Your mistake was not a mistake. Your mistake was a character flaw. I think there is a difference between mistakes and flaws. I once rang the doorbell of a friend’s house. We were playing tennis. We had played tennis often. He opens the door. It’s one of these events where it sticks in your mind because you can see it. I can see the doorstep. He opens the door with his tennis racket, all dressed and ready to go and he said “Did you hear that Alec shot himself last night? Killed himself.” Alec was a very dear friend of mine when I was young. He could not understand why I wouldn’t play tennis that day. I never argued with him. I never said anything to him. I never saw him again, ever. There was vendetta. That wasn’t a mistake. That was a character flaw.


MINTZBERG: Greenspan did not make a mistake. Greenspan had the character flaw that characterizes Milton Friedman and the rest of that gang who have been dragging us into this nonsense because they are absolutely captured by a narrow-minded dogma that is extremely destructive. Greenspan said it.

SCARPINO: Can you articulate that narrow-minded dogma that’s extremely destructive?

MINTZBERG: Yeah. Straight out of my pamphlet. Greed is good, markets are sacrosanct, property is sacred, and governments are suspect. That’s the narrow-minded dogma. It’s one of the key things in my pamphlet. Then I say as one view of human nature that makes sense, some sense. As the view of human nature, it’s nonsense. For them, it was the view. He couldn’t see past it. He made a statement I just picked up peripherally because I was turning it off—I was doing something else and it was on the radio—about everybody is driven by—he didn’t say a dogma—he said a world view or something like that. No. No. No. Intelligent people are able to say, “Wait a minute, maybe it’s wrong.” He could not see it. He was blind. So this great hero—this is another example of how everybody is marching one way and I’m marching another.

SCARPINO: So the marching takes place when dogma triumphs over intelligence?

MINTZBERG: Yeah, over thinking. Yeah. Over thinking, I would say, yeah.

SCARPINO: I’m going to ask you a question and either this is going to work or it’s not. It sort of aimed at where do ideas come from. Everyone that I talked to, one of the things that was at the top of the list when they mentioned you was curiosity. Litwack told me, he said that your first wife was a potter and she had a considerable reputation as a potter and she had a studio in your home. He said that her work as a craftsperson influenced one of your very best all-time articles called “Crafting Strategy,” Harvard Business Review, in 1987, and he added and I will add that “Crafting Strategy” is 12th on your all-time citation list, which is pretty impressive. In 1987, you won the McKinsey Prize for the second best article in Harvard Business Review, which I assume was for “Crafting Strategy.”

MINTZBERG: Yeah. It was.

SCARPINO: For the benefit, again, of people who are going to listen to this or look at the transcript, I’m going to read a line from “Crafting Strategy.” In it you wrote, “Imagine someone planning strategy. What likely springs to mind is an image of orderly thinking: A senior manager, or a group of them, sitting in an office formulating courses of action that everyone else will implement on schedule. The keynote is reason-rational control, the systematic analysis of competitors and markets, of company strengths and weaknesses. A combination of these analyses produces clear, explicit, full-blown strategies. Now imagine someone crafting strategy; a wholly different image results.” Long setup for a short question is: How did the craftsperson, that is your wife, the potter, influence your thinking in “Crafting Strategy?” How did you connect the dots?

MINTZBERG: I think I do a lot of connecting of dots actually. It’s sort of something I do. The thing that influenced me most was not her, but a colleague of hers in Australia who was a very famous potter. I think it might be mentioned in that article. Somebody wanted to study him, like I study managers. And they said that they were going to study him and watch him and learn how he does his pottery. He claimed that was the dumbest idea he ever heard, and he proposed the following. He said, “I will make 1,000 pots and you watch how the pots evolve over these 1,000 pots and then you’ll learn what I’m doing.” I thought that’s fabulous, like it evolves.


MINTZBERG: And strategies evolve kind of like that. The funniest thing is, he told my wife “Don’t tell anybody; somebody will steal the idea.”

SCARPINO: (Laughing) Somebody did.

MINTZBERG: No, but steal it in the sense of making 1,000 pots. You’re right, I stole the idea. (Laughing) But, that’s true, I did steal it. I think that’s kind of the link in a way that when you sit down and you’re looking at the wheel—and Yvette is an extremely creative person, but she’s not well; hasn’t been well for a long, long time—but extremely creative person. So she will start to do something and it will break and go all over the place. The next thing you know, she has got some lovely shape that came out of there. Basically, a lot of great things are serendipitous. I like to talk about two kinds of creativity. She had this kind of spectacular creativity, the kind of Picasso, Guernica, kind of creativity, or my favorite example is Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto. How anybody could do that is beyond me; just a level of creativity that’s spectacular. The creativity that probably has more influence in the world is very ordinary. A guy is doing research in a laboratory and he has got these samples of bacteria and some mold gets into a cup of them and he said, “I’ve got to throw it out.” Then he said, “Well, wait a minute. If the mold is killing the bacteria, maybe we could use that to kill bacteria in the body.” This is the most astounding medical discovery of the 20th century, penicillin and antibiotics and such. Is that like unbelievably creative? He just switched things.


MINTZBERG: All he did was switch it around. It’s serendipitous in a way; serendipitous that the mold got in. He found 31 footnotes in other articles that said mold got into the bacteria and I had to throw samples away. In other words, Fleming was saying, “Any one of those people could have done what I did. They just didn’t see it.”


MINTZBERG: Jokes are like this little flipping around. It’s not my joke. I want to die like my grandfather died, quietly in his sleep, not like those other people in the car who died yelling and screaming. Just flipping it around. You’ve got this image of grandfather in bed and, of course, he’s driving the car. I came up with a little joke yesterday I thought was kind of cute because I was feeling under the weather. I said, “One astronaut says to the other astronaut as they land on the ground, thank God we’re under the weather.” These are just flipping things around, right?

SCARPINO: But you know, maybe real creativity is the one out of 27 people who realized not to throw the mold away.

MINTZBERG: Yeah. But what I mean is it’s not of the order of writing the violin concerto—Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto—which is an amazing synthesis of sounds and they have a hundred pieces in the orchestra or whatever it was in those days; just amazing synthesis.

SCARPINO: As you look at this tremendous body of work that you have produced, is that like the concerto? This amazing synthesis?

MINTZBERG: Well, I don’t want to compare myself to some concerto.

SCARPINO: I know, I did that. You can just run with it.

MINTZBERG: I don’t mind if you do. Yeah, maybe. Maybe the “Structuring of Organizations” was kind of like that. Maybe it’s just a hundred little things all combined. One hundred little switches all combined. It could be.

SCARPINO: When I talked to Litwack, he told me that he had introduced you in his home city of Bangalore, India. When you were there, he provided an introduction, and he was kind enough to give me a copy so I had a chance to read it, in which he talked about you as a cross-country skier in Canada. I’m going to read a line. He said, “Most people who cross-country ski do it on prepared trails that are carefully maintained and groomed, but not Henry. He insists on what is called bushwhacking, going off trail, straight into the snow—and in Canada it’s sometimes deep snow—and breaking his own trails. Could there be more of a perfect image for how he has approached his research and writing?” I will say in the interest of full disclosure that I did some bushwhacking in the Bitterroot Mountains of Montana so I know what it involves. But is he right? Is that a perfect image for your research and writing?

MINTZBERG: Yeah, maybe. Yeah, maybe so. Yeah, probably. The way it started was I was skiing with a friend and we were going on a trail beside a lake and I said let’s just go on the lake. It’s nicer to go on the lake. So we kind of went along the lake and then when we came to the end of the lake we were going to join back on the trail. Then we looked at the map and we said “Well, you know what, this trail goes off like this but there is another trail in the woods that’s going like this. Let’s go to that trail.” So we went and connected to the other trail. After that, we were off trails totally. We were totally off trails. Every Saturday, a compass and a topographical map and off we went. There were no GPS in those days. And off we went and we just explored. We loved it. We absolutely loved it. That is absolutely in my bones to do that kind of thing.

SCARPINO: So have you been breaking trails as a scholar?


SCARPINO: As a scholar, are you figuratively breaking trail?

MINTZBERG: Yeah, I guess so. Certainly with the IMPM and those new programs, yeah. Yeah, I think I have done a lot of that. Now, I write short stories and I wrote one called “Going Off Track with Frank,” which if you want to see is about that experience. It’s about everything I did with Frank, but it’s basically about our bushwhacking.

SCARPINO: I will. You have traveled all over the world, cities all over the world. I understand from talking to Mr. Litwack that you don’t like museums. Why is that? Is that true and why?

MINTZBERG: It’s probably a little less true than what I used to articulate with Bill. I remember once going through the Musee d’Orsay in Paris and saying, “The most beautiful thing in the Musee d’Orsay is the musee itself.”


MINTZBERG: The only thing worth going to see is the museum itself. I have since been to the Hermitage in St. Petersburg and because I love van Gogh. I mean, I certainly liked to see it. But it’s dead. It’s dead. I think art should be live. You go in Mexico City, it’s all over the—murals all over the walls. Art should not be hidden away.

SCARPINO: Diego Rivera.

MINTZBERG: Yeah. They should not just hide all this art in museums. It should be living. So, in that sense, it’s a bit boring. Now there is this glass exhibition. Do you know about that? I think it’s finished now, but have you seen that?

SCARPINO: Chihuly.

MINTZBERG: This American guy from. . .

SCARPINO: Seattle? Chihuly?

MINTZBERG: Yeah. Have you seen his?

SCARPINO: I have seen his work, yes.

MINTZBERG: It’s amazing. I mean that was in a museum. It was amazing, absolutely amazing.

SCARPINO: I also understand that when you travel to various cities that, at least you used to, like to get on a bicycle and ride around?

MINTZBERG: Yeah. I have done overnight bicycling like three or four days or more in 15 different countries, sometimes by myself. Three days in Japan by myself. I crossed France. I did two 800 kilometer trips in France. One by myself. One north-south, one east-west.

SCARPINO: Why? What attracts you?

MINTZBERG: I love bicycling. It’s just the right speed. It’s the perfect speed. It’s exercise and yet it’s leisure in the sense you don’t have to go fast. I never like these handlebars. I want to sit up there and look around. It’s wonderful. If you’re walking—I love to hike. I have done tons of hiking. I have climbed Mont Blanc once. But I love to bicycle. Hiking, unless you’re in a spectacular area like a lake district or the Alps or something, it’s slow from city to city. Cars, you just whiz by. You don’t see anything. You see it and it’s gone. A bicycle is just the perfect speed for seeing things. You’re getting exercise. It’s wonderful. I love bicycling.

SCARPINO: When you tell me that you didn’t like museums because the stuff in there is dead, and you enjoy riding a bicycle because of the pace and the experience it gives you, do those points of view in any way connect to Henry Mintzberg the scholar? The researcher? I can focus that, but let me see what you can do.

MINTZBERG: I think observation and the exploring in the research is a bit like the bicycling. The museum—the “Structuring of Organizations” was based on published material for the most part, which is sort of like going into the archives. I think maybe it’s the show of it. I’m not big on spectacles. I’m not big on theater. I don’t mean theater-theater. Actually, I like movies much more than theater. I don’t like people to make a fuss about me so I tend to sort of—I don’t look for the limelight. I’m doing it today, but I was honored to do it.

SCARPINO: Well, you were invited into the limelight, too.

MINTZBERG: Yeah, yeah. I don’t go looking for it. I would have to think about that.

SCARPINO: We talked at the beginning when we were first chatting about your Canadian perspective and how that influences the way you look at the world and the kind of scholarship that you have done. I want to do a followup on that. You lived for most of your adult life in French-speaking Quebec and you told me—I don’t remember if we had the recorder on or not—that you’re fluent in French. Tensions between the Francophone/Catholic part of Canada and Quebec and the Anglophone/protestant parts of the rest of the country are an important theme in Canadian history. There was an indigenous terrorist movement here in the ‘60s and ‘70s, Rene Levesque and the Parti Quebecois, unsuccessful referendum in 1980. You’ve got the Meech Lake Accord in 1987, which sort of broke apart when some of the provinces didn’t approve it. In 1995, separatists lost another referendum in Quebec. I’m wondering if living in this area where there has been this tension between Francophone and Anglophone Canada has had any impact on you as you developed, particularly thinking in terms of management, strategy, leadership?

MINTZBERG: No, I doubt it. The conflict in Canada, unlike Belgium and Northern Ireland and many other countries, is rarely personal. It’s more on the plane of communities and cultures. French Canadian people are among the friendliest, warmest people I know anywhere, much like the Irish, not the Northern Irish, the Republic Irish. They are among the nicest, warmest people I have ever met. They are very interbred with French Canadians because they were both poor Catholics so they could intermarry. I have never experienced a lot of tension between Francophones and Anglophones, like personal tension on the street. Sure, things happen. They happen in any society, but you don’t get the kind of things you saw in Northern Ireland or that you see in Belgium; real kind of hatred. I don’t think it’s been characterized by that. So in that sense, it’s never felt like—there has been violence occasionally, but actually remarkably little if you think about independence movements. There is this financial threat. There is this threat of sort of having to uproot, but there is not this threat of personal safety.

SCARPINO: The 1995 referendum was remarkably close.

MINTZBERG: A few tenths of a percent.

SCARPINO: Had it been successful, do you think that it would have transformed this place in ways that might have been difficult to adjust to?

MINTZBERG: Investments you said?

SCARPINO: No. Would it have transformed this place in ways that would have been difficult to adjust to?

MINTZBERG: I think so in a way because Montrealers are here because it’s such an eclectic place. It sends out a signal basically saying it’s for certain people and not for other people. Regardless of what they say, that’s the case. Nobody has particularly written about this, but it could have led to dire consequences because by cutting off the Eastern provinces you create a kind of Bangladesh/Pakistan situation. I would think the Maritime Provinces would almost have had to go their own way. Then you have a Canada that consists of Ontario and the West with the majority of voters in Ontario. That wouldn’t be stable either. So you would have a breakup, I think, every which way. You would have a West or maybe an abridged Columbia and the prairies or maybe an Alberta by itself. You would have an East. You would have Ontario. It would have been dire, I think. Not just what happens in Quebec, but just that split would have been dire, I think. That could have led to violence so that could have made things go really, really bad.

SCARPINO: Did you ever write about that?

MINTZBERG: Did I write about that?


MINTZBERG: I wrote a book for the second referendum. It was the fastest thing I ever did because I thought if I could influence a few votes. It’s called The Canadian Condition. Santa can give you a copy. We have got lots of copies. It actually sold about 6,000 copies, which wasn’t bad. It’s a little paperback sort of expressing a point of view about this great battle between the Francophones and the Anglophones is a battle between significantly Celtic Anglophones, Irish and Scottish, and significantly Celtic French who come significantly from Normandy and Brittany. In fact, the most famous dishes in Quebec are actually dishes from the other side of the English Canal. What is it called—the English Canal? No, what do you call it?

SCARPINO: The English Channel.

MINTZBERG: English Channel. So I wrote a constitution that I said if it’s going to be taken seriously it has to be in one page. I had dinner that night of the referendum with a very famous Quebec woman and her husband. She is French Canadian. I wrote it in the morning and I said this is serious because I wrote it this morning, and I put it in a blue package with a red ribbon and, “Can I bring you chocolate or wine?” Her husband is the conductor of the Montreal Symphony, Charles DuToit, very famous guy. She is married to Kravis now of KKR. So I wasn’t going to bring chocolates or a bottle of wine, so I brought a constitution. Then I published it in this little book.

SCARPINO: I’m going to ask you one more question about yourself and then switch topics completely in the time we have left. Santa Rodriguez told me that when you’re working that you scribble ideas on little pieces of paper and shove them in your pockets, and that you take them home and put them in stacks and that eventually you reorganize the little pieces of paper. Is that true and what does that say about your creative process?

MINTZBERG: Yeah, it’s true. Thousands and thousands of little pieces of paper. I’ve got thousands of little pieces of paper. Well, it’s just a question of coding. It’s a question of having single ideas, particular ideas, and then coding them all to get them into some kind of structure. This is written up a bit in the piece called “Developing Theory About the Development of Theory.” You can see it. I love that piece. That’s the most playful thing I have ever written.

SCARPINO: We have a little bit of time left. I’m going switch and talk to you about leadership because we’re here on behalf of the International Leadership Association. The first question I want to ask you is: Do you think of yourself as a leader?

MINTZBERG: No. Maybe a thought leader, but I’ve never particularly strived for leadership positions so I’m not a leader in that conventional sense. Now, thinkers are leaders if people choose to follow their thoughts, so they become leaders by the attribution of what they have written to things that people want to think about. So in that sense, sure. Any article that becomes popular leads if it says new things. So in that sense, yeah. I think we certainly set out to lead in this changing of management education, this redefining of management education. We certainly took the lead in trying to sort of make a breakthrough and change that around.

SCARPINO: What did you hope the nature of that breakthrough would be?

MINTZBERG: It’s not happening. They say that Karl Marx learned how to ride a horse so he could lead the revolution. I don’t know if that’s true or not. (Laughing)

SCARPINO: (Laughing) I don’t know if it’s true either. I doubt it, but I don’t know.

MINTZBERG: It’s apocryphal. It was my hope, and it seemed to me obvious and still seems to me obvious, that MBA programs are geared for people going into analytical positions, like marketing research or financial analysis, and that we’re not training managers and we need programs to train and help develop managers. That means taking people who are managers and giving them a chance to reflect on their own experience and learn from each other. That’s what we hoped would catch fire and go all over the place.

SCARPINO: Let’s do this and I’ll just leave it hanging until the next time I get a chance to talk to you. There are actually two questions. The first one is: How do you define leadership? How do you know it when you see it?

MINTZBERG: I will tell you how I don’t define leadership. . .

SCARPINO: That will work, too.

MINTZBERG: . . .as externally determined; that senior people decide who are young leaders. I hate that term ‘young leaders.’ Leadership is exhibited by people wanting to follow someone in doing something. So it’s the led who determine leadership, not the superiors. You could say leadership is defined as characteristics that make people want to follow someone going somewhere.

SCARPINO: Such as?


SCARPINO: No. I mean characteristics. Sorry.

MINTZBERG: Everything from Gandhi to Hitler. It’s something compelling about a vision or a direction, but also a belief that that person can actually make it happen. You talk about voting with your feet. Nobody voted with his feet the way Gandhi did; literally with his feet, with the Salt March and all that.

SCARPINO: So is leadership practiced or earned?

MINTZBERG: Practiced or?




MINTZBERG: But it’s certainly earned. Yeah. There are a lot of people running around thumping their chests calling themselves leaders who are—look, I’m on record as saying that any chief executive who accepts to be paid several hundred times as much as the workers is not a leader.

SCARPINO: Right. I read that several places.

MINTZBERG: That means the Fortune 500 has no leaders or almost no leaders. Here is another example of where everybody is out of step. How could all these chief executives—how could almost none of them—step back and say “What effect is my salary having on this organization?” How can almost none of them step back and say—the first time I published about this was in the Financial Times where I wrote a letter as if from a chief executive to the Board saying, “How can you do this to me? If you choose to pay me this way, if you choose to single me out this way, how can I possibly think long term if you’re paying me in bonuses? And how can I possibly build teamwork that I’m busy talking about when you want to pay me this way? Please cut my salary.” Of course, they weren’t breaking down the doors. But you would think a few of them would sort of step back and say, “What am I here for? Am I here to demonstrate that mine is bigger than everybody else’s? Or am I here to lead this company in the best way I possibly can? And the first signal I’m sending out is how I’m being paid.”

SCARPINO: I’m going to respect the opportunity for you to have a little downtime before your next session.

MINTZBERG: Yeah. I will need about 10-15 minutes.

SCARPINO: I will turn these recorders off.

MINTZBERG: Your questions are fabulous, Phil.

SCARPINO: Thank you.