Do you lead or do you manage? Do you believe in command-and-control or do you believe in team empowerment? Recently, while presenting an Agile Enterprise Workshop, we discussed Theory X and Theory Y with our workshop attendees.

Theory X and Theory Y are two extremes introduced by Harvard Professor Douglas McGregor in his book “The Human Side of Enterprise”, over 50 years ago. Still, you can find both theories in practice today.

Though the theory of x and y are not absolute in how human nature plays out in our places of work, there will always be those among us who are polarizing and think of life as a side of a coin.

So, which do you believe?

Attitude: Do you believe we all dislike work, find it boring, and will avoid it if we can? Or, do you believe we need to work and want to take an interest in it? Under the right conditions, do you believe we can enjoy it?

Direction: Do you believe we must be forced or coerced to make the right effort? Or, do you believe we will direct ourselves towards a target that we accept?

Responsibility: Do you believe we would rather be directed than take responsibility for our own actions? Or, do you believe we seek and accept responsibility under the right circumstances?

Motivation: Do you believe we are intrinsically motivated by money and fears about our job security? Or, do you believe, under the right conditions, we are extrinsically motivated by the desire to realize our own potential?
Creativity: Do you believe most of us have little creativity? Or, do you believe we are actually highly creative, waiting for the opportunity to express it?

Again I ask, which do you believe?

HT: Dan Pink

HT: Sanjiv Augutine

HT: Wikipedia