Book Review: The Oz Principle

The Oz Principle: Getting Results Through Individual and Organizational Accountability
Roger Connors, Tom Smith, and Craig Hickman
Portfolio/Penguin Group (2010)

As human beings, it is natural for us to easily fall into the blame game and possess a mindset that we are victims of our situations or circumstances. In The Oz Principle, the authors Connors, Smith, and Hickman use the metaphor of the characters in the Wizard of Oz story to illustrate how people use their sense of victimization to justify inaction, excuse ineffectiveness or poor performance, and slow down their own progress.

The authors also point out that everyone within an organization should take full ownership of their work and be accountable for their thoughts, feelings, actions, and results so as to avoid getting stuck in the victim cycle which can make the organization’s and their own future vulnerable.

The book further demonstrates how individuals with accountability move beyond their victimization to overcome obstacles and therefore they could achieve the results they desire and move Above The Line. Above The Line is an area of accountability where a sense of reality, ownership, commitment, solutions to problems and action can be found, while Below The Line lies excuse making, blaming others, confusion and an attitude of helplessness.

There are four steps of accountability which can be achieved in order for individuals and organization to think and act Above The Line. See It: Recognize and acknowledge the reality and see things as they really are, Own It: Accept full responsibility for one’s failure or results, Solve It: Change those realities by finding and implementing solutions to mitigate or remove the problems, Do It: Follow through with actions and the solutions identified to bring desire results. It is also important to note the suggestion by the authors that, constantly seeking for feedback from others is an effective way to improve the ability to see the reality of the situations.

Beyond emphasizing on personal accountability, the authors also highlight in the later chapters of the book on how to help others be accountable and to get the entire organization Above The Line. There are five activities serve as the solid foundation to successfully create a culture of accountability: (1)Training everyone, at every level, (2) Coaching accountability, (3) Asking Above The Line questions, (4) Rewarding accountability, and (5) Holding people accountable.

In my opinion, The Oz Principle is a must-read book for individuals and organization who choose to stay Above The Line. By asking ourselves What else can I do?, we are on the right track toward accepting full accountability and learn the secret to getting better results faster. The lessons and principles in this book are vital and can be applied not only in workplace settings but also in other areas of our life.

** I just started my new job at a new company and as part of the joining process, the company gifted me this book and I was required to read and write a short essay about it. I am impressed that the company adopts the Oz principle as its corporate mission and way of thinking. I believe when the culture of accountability is promoted as a core principle of an organization, every employee could benefit from this principle for both their professional and personal growth. More importantly, they will also be empowered to accelerate their own success and move the organization forward.

A software engineer, a toastmaster, and a hobbyist photographer. Love to spend time reading, learning and experiencing new things, traveling, and thinking :)

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