Friday, May 23, 2008

Strategy Jokes With Mintzberg

"An expert has been defined as someone who avoids the many pitfalls on his or her way to the grand fallacy."

"Study after study has shown that that the most effective managers rely on some of the softest forms of information, including gossip, hearsay, and various other intangible scraps of information."

Henry Mintzberg, "The Fall and Rise of Strategic Planning," Harvard
Business Review
, January-February 1994.

I know, this is an old article. But I just read it again and had the fortunate opportunity to hear Henry Mintzberg crack jokes about the follies of strategy-making.

I remember a community leader commenting about my work in southeast Baltimore in the 1990s, reported in Nonprofit Leadership,that I was running the local community development corporation (CDC) more professionally. The undertone was that I was a more polished director than former CDC directors -- more accomplished and professional in pursuing bad ideas. In the next few months I'll begin sharing some thoughts about the exhaustion of the community development approach. I'm a slow learner.

On a more positive note, one of my favorite "soft forms of information" is what's left scattered around at the old printer station. Not private stuff, heaven forbid, but unusual data analyses, reports, articles, powerpoints, visual representations. As someone who spends a lot of time buzzing around looking for new information and ideas, often this is a treasure trove. And it just sits there. It also boosts my interest in and respect for colleagues. Sometimes, interesting stuff is one conversation away.

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