“In order to develop theory you must get under the data… …Cherish anomalies. If you can explain them, that’s when you might have something really big.” Dr. Henry Mintzberg, Thursday, February 28, 2013, McGill University Faculty Club I think I called him Dr. Mintzberg once. He is one of McGill’s most illustrious scholars. He regularly joins Drucker and Porter in article titles of premiere management mags. He attained Guru status in 2009 in The Economist a month after Warren Buffet received the same designation. But everybody seems to call him Henry. I was a taken off guard by this the day I first met him. I had gone to his office in the Desautel Faculty of Management at McGill University and met his assistant Santa who referred to him as Henry and did so in a way that suggested it was exactly the way he wanted to be addressed. It was so noticeably clear that later on that afternoon after chatting with one of his doctoral students who also referred to him this way when I was introduced to him later on that evening I referred to him as Dr. Mintzberg but it rang false. My first class with Henry Mintzberg took place on Thursday, February 28, 2013 in a small parlour on the second floor of the McGill University Faculty Club. Two of Henry’s PhD students, Carlos and Hassan, and Yuan, an assistant professor in the management faculty, joined me listening intently, as Henry expounded on his student days, research and theory, Balinese cockfights, and creativity. He explained how in the late sixties only Harvard with its case study approach had a clear methodology to business education. His alma mater, MIT, left him relatively free to research and write on whatever, and however, he wanted and that allowed Henry to embark upon is now his famous approach. He chose to observe managers and try and figure out what and how they do what they do. Like many innovative ideas it was partly inspired from an earlier childhood curiosity to know what his father, the president of a small manufacturing company, did at work. Henry had read Henri Fayol, and decided to find out if Fayol’s 4 functions of: planning, organizing, coordinating and controlling were readily observable in the workplace. According to Henry, standard management research was pretty stiff in 1968 when he started his research and his ethnographic approach was highly original. Until Henry, nobody had thought of just watching managers at work to see what they do. Or maybe some had, but had not thought it was worthwhile. Illustrating his point, Mintzberg recounted the story of Dr. John Snow ranked as Britian’s greatest physician in a 2003 poll of doctors. In the 1854 cholera outbreak of London, Snow correctly identified the Broadwick Street pump as the water source of the disease by correctly examining the geographic relationship between the contaminated water pump and the victim’s homes. Most of the deaths had occurred in the vicinity of the pump with the exception of ten deaths that were much farther away. As part of his investigation, Snow questioned the relevance of these anomalies and discovered that the families of these victims preferred the water from the Broadwick pump to the pump closer to their home. Up until Snow’s discovery predominant theory held that cholera was an airborne miasma theory or ‘bad air’. By proving it to be spread through contaminated water from leaching cesspools and removing the handle from the bad pump the outbreak was stopped. Earlier that evening, Henry offered his opinions regarding creativity in response to my research interests. Mintzberg recognizes 2 types. The first being the highly inspired creative genius of great artists that result in magnum opuses (he named Tchaikovsky) and a second type that is more quotidian that allowed Arthur Fleming to consider his happy accident of the morning of September 3, 1928 when he noticed fungus growing in one of the Petri dishes of staphylococci: 26 others did not have any mould. Curious, Fleming showed it to his assistant, Merlin Price, who reminded him that this was how he had discovered lysozyme. Fleming grew the mould. Found that it secreted a liquid that killed several strains of virulent bacteria. And after calling it mould juice for a while, named it penicillin on March 7, 1929. A very happy accident that Mintzberg calls type 2 creativity. That some might call a hunch. That I label as critical feeling. Why critical? Because other scientists before Fleming had seen the mould growing, identified it as penicillium sp. and even noted its antibiotic capabilities but Fleming was the one that isolated the active ingredient and recognized its ability to fight disease. Mintzberg calls this creative intuition. I call it critical feeling. The ability to consider a hunch, grow it into a possibility and provide it the recognition it deserves to become an original thought. Thanks Henry.