Saturday, October 6, 2007

The Human side of Enterprise - Douglas McGregor - 1960

The Human Side of Enterprise by Douglas McGregor - 1960.
A review of an extraordinary book by Peter A Hunter, Author of “Breaking the Mould.”

This is the most difficult book it has ever been my extraordinary pleasure to review.

For some time now I have, at intervals, come across the influence of this book and have never thought to look for the source or follow up the reference.
When I was given a copy of the book I glanced at the first two pages intending to put it on the shelf next to the growing pile of “management” books I keep there for a rainy day.

Two hours later I was making excuses about why everything else could wait until I had finished it.
I didn’t get the book finished in one sitting but at that first sitting I resolved to do what I could to bring this fifty year old wisdom back to the fore.

To say that Douglas McGregor was way ahead of his time is obvious, but to assume that his time has passed is just as wrong.
“The Human Side of Enterprise” shows us how to make more money by doing less work but, because it sounds too good to be true, we assume that it must be, and therefore disregard it.

In the cynical sixties the book got a mixed reception, those who understood and practiced the McGregor philosophy were in the minority and those who were absolutely sure that the McGregor proposition could never happen were the huge majority.

I was neither but assumed that the cynics were right because I heard no other point of view.

What caught my eye first in the book was that this was the source of the Theory Y Management Strategy. Douglas McGregor characterised the current management practises as Theory X and in this book he proposed the antidote to the destruction that was waged by Theory X managers.
He called it, “Theory Y”

Initially this was going to be a simple review whose purpose was to bring to another generation the astonishing wisdom that McGregor had developed in coining the terms Theory X and Theory Y.
Unfortunately, after revealing the grace and power of this alternate theory of management practice, instead of acknowledging that this was an epoch shattering piece of work and being content, the book continues to become even more powerful with every turn of the page until it is almost impossible to write succinctly about the innovative thinking and wisdom of this book without running out of superlatives. You might want to read that sentence again.

Here is a selection of quotes culled from the pages.
You might be forgiven for thinking that this is a book of quotes, it is not.
It is simply so powerful that the quotes seem to leap off every page.

They are as true today as they were when Douglas McGregor wrote The Human Side of Enterprise nearly fifty years ago.

“The effectiveness of organisations could be at least doubled if managers could discover how to tap into the unrealised potential present in their workforces.”

“The ingenuity of the average worker is sufficient to outwit any system of controls devised by management.”

“When people respond to managerial decisions in undesired ways the normal response is to blame them, rather than managements failure to select the appropriate means of control.”

“A half a century ago industrial management had, in the threat of unemployment, a form of punishment which made the use of authority relatively effective.
The situation today is vastly different.”

“When the use of authority does not work don’t use less or more. Use another means of influence.”

“When objectives are externally imposed indifference or resistance are the most likely consequences.”

“It is one of the favourite pastimes of management to decide, from within their professional ivory tower, what help the field organisation needs and then to design and develop programs for meeting these needs.
Then it becomes necessary to get the field organisation to accept the help provided.
This is normally the role of the Change Manager; to implement the change that no-one asked for or wants”.

The above quotes are all taken from the text of this book, written fifty years ago.
All of them could have been written yesterday and still be true.
This book heaves with the lessons that we should have learned fifty years ago.

Peter A Hunter
Author – Breaking the Mould

Tuesday, October 2, 2007


OMERTA, a mafia operation..!!

It’s the second novel by Mario Puzo that I have read. The first one was “The Last Don”. Though I read the previous novel a long time ago (probably 5 years) but yes I do remember that the author has good style of writing and has fine ability to present a clear picture of organized crimes.

From both the novels, I could easily conclude that the basic theme or general idea is kept same by Mario throughout all his books. There is a hero (or a Big Mafia Don) who protects his empire by winning over others. But the art by which he creates a different story every time and make us learn how an organized crime works is something to learn.

We do get good management lessons from it. How to protect your own team and to manage various operations simultaneously. We can see a good combination of system driven crime and people driven crime which can be seen as another style of management. Various Mafia Dons are organizing crimes against each other that can seen as system driven game and how one wins over other that can seen as the result system driven + people driven game.

Coming down to synopsis of this book, here’s a guy Astorre Viola who was adopted by Don Raymond’s Aprille from another Big Don of his own times. Don Raymond trains Astorre Viola about the organized crime and finally makes him a protector of his children, who were kept away from Raymond’s crime world and banking business. At the time of retirement Don Raymond was killed by anonymous guys, and that seemed to be the first step towards the end of Raymond’s empire and family. But Astorre Viola, as expected takes the responsibility of protecting Don’s children and the banking business.

The idea is how a new guys works in a preorganized crime world, his strategies and arts of working is something what makes Mario, the author, someone special.

Overall the novel is a good read and a good time pass. One doesn’t get bored at all throughout the complete story. Mario Puzo goes more on detailing of complete event which brings a clearer picture as if we are watching a mafia movie and not reading. If you are opting for this book to read, do realize the fact that it will be a Mafia story similar to any other Mario Puzo’s novel but his style of presenting the complete picture will keep you moving through the pages.

Another good review available is at the following link:

Vivek Nagpal /