McGregor’s X-Y Theory

McGregor’s X-Y Theory is a management theory that turns the established management philosophy on its head. It also supports agile.

Theory X

This theory looks at the conventional idea that management is top-down. It is considered the authoritarian way of managing that was common in many companies before introducing the agile way of working and is still prevalent in some cultures. This form of leadership is characterized by words like controlling, micromanaging, and non-innovative. Often in this culture, employees are not encouraged to speak up with new ideas and do not feel empowered to do so.

Theory Y

This theory focuses on staff control. It encourages innovation, empowerment, and team responsibility. Management supports the team and lets them develop new ideas, supports change, and continuous improvement. Agile principles support this style and are pulling companies into the Y management style.

Background Of The Term

McGregor’s X-Y Theory was proposed in his 1960 book “The Human Side of Enterprise” (McGraw-Hill, 1960)

Further Learning

Managing the Unmanageable, Rules, Tools, and Insights For Managing Software, People And Teams, Second Edition, Mantle and Lichty (Addison-Wesley 2020)

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