Henry Mintzberg Talks about Rebalancing Society at our Copenhagen Event


Rebalancing Society and Why it is So Important

Henry Mintzberg was so kind as to give us this interesting video interview before his presentation at our Mintzberg Event, May 3. 2018 in Copenhagen.

Two years have passed since then, yet the talk about rebalancing society is as relevant as ever.

On this beautiful sunny day in May, 80 exclusively invited people – including ManageMagazine members – joined us in Copenhagen, where Henry Mintzberg presented and discussed his concerns about rebalancing society.

ManageMagazine author and member Kim Buch-Madsen here shares his experience of the event:

“As in his writings, Mr. Mintzberg was no bullshit, no hype, no need to please. Just clear, original, and realistic thinking. ‘The Rock Star of Management’ appeared as a humble, quiet, and kind man with no need to promote himself or prove anything to anybody. Interesting – and a new experience – that he lifted his thinking to a global societal level. But there were a few Mintzberg classics as well “I am not a big fan of leadership. It’s too much about one person at the top, always from the top”

Henry-Mintzberg-Rebalancing Society
Henry Mintzberg and Kim Buch-Madsen

Introducing Henry Mintzberg

ManageMagazine Founder Vibeke Vad Baunsgaard opened the event by addressing the need for a stronger collaboration between research and practice. She specifically invited organizational leaders to take a keener look at the opportunities of gaining in-house valuable content for courses, workshops, and social media marketing by engaging in research-practice collaborations; collaborations so close that they today are new to both universities and organizations.

Henry Mintzberg Rebalancing Society
Photographer: Henrik Clausen

Søren Brandi from Hildebrandt & Brandi then introduced Henry Mintzberg by noting that Henry Mintzberg is to management what Bruce Springsteen is to Rock’n Roll.

By giving some of the highlights of Mintzberg’s professional career, Søren gave us all that profound feeling of how we were all in the presence of a living management legend; a legend that most of us were introduced to years ago during initial management studies or other.

Henry Mintzberg is to management what Bruce Springsteen is to Rock’n Roll

“He was literally THE person who kick-started my passion for organizational behavior and strategy way back when” Kim Buch-Madsen told us.

During the introduction, Søren Brandi amusingly conveyed that minutes before the presentation, he had told Professor Mintzberg that the room he was then sitting in was called ‘The Mintzberg Room’. Mintzberg asked: today? In reply, Søren Brandi pointed to the golden sign next to the door reading: The Mintzberg Room. Few things could be more appropriate than to have Professor Mintzberg hang out in The Mintzberg Room.

Henry Mintzberg Rebalancing Society
Photographer: Henrik Clausen

Rebalancing Society: The Private, Public, and the Plural Sector

In the video, Mintzberg explains, that societies go out of balance periodically in different directions. I mean it more in terms of the interplay of three sectors of society, not two, he says. Not just public-private. That has been the problem – public-private. But public-private – and plural; the civil society. And you can see societies going out of balance in all directions, he tells us.




So communism was imbalanced in favor of the public sector. America today is imbalanced in favor of the private sector. And Venezuela or Hungary and the populist countries are imbalanced in favor of the plural sector […] we got a new form of imbalance that’s more global.

You know, Nazism, before World War II, was not global. It was isolated in three or four very aggressive countries like Italy, Germany, and Russia – some others.

But now what we are seeing is a complete swing in the entire world, except for places like Russia and China – to a complete imbalance in favor of the private sector. And the reason there’s so much resistance to globalization now is that globalization is considered an uncontrolled corporate force, a private-sector force that has no constraints on it, says Mintzberg.


Leadership Versus Communityship

Don’t forget that people act as individuals too, Henry Mintzberg says. You may be a corporate Chief Executive, but you are also an individual.

Henry Mintzberg Rebalancing Society

I argue, says Mintzberg, that you may work in the private sector, you may vote in the public sector, but you live in the plural sector. Everybody lives in the plural sector. We belong to clubs, we donate to charity, we donate our time, and we volunteer … I don’t think there’s anybody who doesn’t interact with ten plural sectors in a week. So there are all kinds of things people can do as individuals as well as under the corporate umbrella.

we just overemphasize leadership at the expense of communityships

I see it as a leadership task, but I’m not a big fan of leadership. I think we need leadership, I recognize leadership; I’m a fan of communityship.

I think we just overemphasize leadership at the expense of communityships. The word leadership implies one person. It’s always one person. You say ‘leader’ you think of one person, you don’t think of a group. You think of a person motivating a group maybe, but that’s not egalitarian. Denmark is a country, it’s an egalitarian country – it’s about communityship, it’s not about leadership.

Engagement from the Ground

A point that Henry Mintzberg often makes and also made at this presentation is the need for engaging organizations bottom-up. Many of our participants particularly enjoyed his point about paying close attention to ‘shifts’, which are more likely than not to happen on ‘the floor’ rather than in the corridors of top-management.

Mintzberg gave us the IKEA example of a shift happening in light of an IKEA worker continuously struggling to help customers getting furniture into their cars. The important ‘shift’ of recognizing the need for making furniture which customers could assemble at home, turned IKEA’s business model on its head altogether.

It is these ‘shifts, Mintzberg advised us, that we must pay close attention to, and the only way to do this is to encourage engagement on the ground.

Final Words of Thanks

At ManageMagazine we’d like to express our heartfelt thanks to Henry Mintzberg for giving this presentation to our members and invited participants. We’d also like to give our sincere thanks to CoachingOurselves and to Hildebrandt & Brandi for co-creating this event with us. It has been a joy working with you all.



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