Mette Norgaard


The Human Side of Enterprise

The human side of enterprise is endlessly fascinating. Douglas McGregor, part of the avant-garde on human performance, stressed the need for leaders to have an effective theory about human nature. Teaching at MIT, McGregor likened it to the way a civil engineer must understand the nature of water in order to build a dam. Were the engineer to assume water flows upstream and design accordingly, no one would reproach the water for not getting with the program. Yet many leaders, seem to absolve themselves when things don’t go as planned, saying, “people resist change.” Of course the do, and it is the leader’s job to anticipate that. A central part of my work is to stop such nonsense, by helping leaders find their voice, and craft their distinct model for how to lead people and change.



In business we appreciate boldness, swagger, the “masters of the universe.” We track the tickertape of better, faster, cheaper, smarter. Then … something happens. Like when an Indian friend told me about the executive who flew to San Francisco first class; and returned in the cargo.  


The movie Gandhi has a powerful scene called The March on the Salt Works. Row upon row of men, filled with fierce resolve, step forward, defying British rule. Hour upon hour, standing in the harsh sun, awaiting their turn to get clubbed and kicked. Where did they find such strength?