The OZ Principle

All organizations have core values or outlined competencies that define who they are and who they want to be. I would venture to guess that 9 out 10 times the word accountability is in those values or on that list.

The OZ Principle is a book about driving results through increasing personal and organizational accountability. The book is authored by Roger Connors, Craig Hickman, and Tom Smith, who are all senior leaders at Partners in Leadership, a firm specializing in accountability and culture development.

The OZ Principle uses the familiar story of The Wizard of OZ and each of its main characters (Dorothy, the Cowardly Lion, the Tin Woodsman and the Scarecrow) to teach us the principles of individual and organizational accountability. The OZ Principle is broken down into three parts:

  • The OZ Principle: Getting results through accountability
  • The Power of Individual Accountability: Moving yourself above the line
  • Results Through Collective Accountability: Helping your organization perform above the line

While the book is written as a fun narrative, it also includes real life business examples and various self-assessments and check-lists. The OZ Principle promises to help individuals and leaders become better at getting results through increased accountability.

The Big Idea

The Big Idea: The biggest takeaway from the book

Getting Above the Line

"Accountability for results rests at the very core of the continuous improvement, innovation, customer satisfaction, team performance, talent development and corporate governance movements so popular today."
- The OZ Principle, page 14

You’ll see “Above the Line” a lot throughout the book. This is simply the standard of accountability that you and your organization must consistently strive for to achieve the results that you are after. The “Above the Line” steps to accountability are See It, Own It, Solve It, and Do It.  To further explain these:

  • See It: Involves recognizing and acknowledging the full reality of the situation. (The Lion: Mustering the Courage to See It).
  • Own It: Accepting responsibility for the experiences and realities you create for yourself and others. (The Tin Woodsman: Finding the Heart to Own It).
  • Solve It: Entails changing reality by finding and implementing solutions to problems that you may not have thought of before. (The Scarecrow: Obtaining the Wisdom to Solve It).
  • Do It: Mustering the commitment and courage to follow through with the solutions you’ve identified. (Dorothy: Exercising the Means to Do It).

“Regardless of the situations, you cannot even begin to turn things around until you take charge of your circumstances and accept your own responsibility for better results in the future,” write the authors.  Creating a focused discipline for oneself and a team is difficult, no doubt, but following the See It, Own It, Solve It, Do It model provides us with steps to follow to bring ourselves and our teams “Above the Line” to get results through increased accountability.

Insight #1

An actionable way to implement the Big Idea into your life

Accountability and Joint Accountability

"When everyone is accountable for achieving organizational results, and not just doing her job, the right things tend to happen."
- The OZ Principle, page 55

The authors’ define accountability as “A personal choice to rise above one’s circumstances and demonstrate the ownership necessary for achieving desired results – to See It, Own It, Solve It and Do It.  The definition includes a mind-set or attitude of continually asking, ‘What else can I do to rise above my circumstances and achieve the results I desire?’”

I love this. Ultimately, it is up to us as individuals to make a decision and accept ownership of the situations that we find ourselves in. Once we do that, we can then take the steps necessary to course correct where we want/need to go.

Secondly, let’s briefly explore The OZ Principle’s definition of joint accountability.  Joint accountability emphasizes the fact that accountability works best when people share ownership for circumstances and results. This thinking comes into play when looking at accountability as a leader or from an organizational perspective.

“Organizational results come from a collective, not individual, activity,” write the authors. “When an organization fails to perform well, it represents, ultimately, a collective or shared failure. A complete understanding of accountability in organizations must include the principle of joint accountability.” Having this understanding and mindset within a team or an organization helps to eliminate the blame game mentality that is so common. Once it’s understood that everyone on the team and within the organization is responsible to pull their weight, the more we’re able to hold everyone accountable to achieving the desired results.

Insight #2

An actionable way to implement the Big Idea into your life

Holding People Accountable

"You can’t create accountability without clearly defining results."
- The OZ Principle, page 191

Such a critical component of holding people accountable is for them to have the clear understanding of what it is that they are (specifically) responsible for and expected to produce. This can be often overlooked when it comes to leadership. Not communicating expectations can lead to people making their own assumptions of what they should be producing, leaving open the potential for misalignment around expectations. Guidelines for holding people accountable The OZ Principle Way are:

  • Define the Result (What “Rings The Bell?”).
  • Determine time to report on progress (What Progress Has Been Made?).
  • Deliver praise or coaching (“Well done!” Or “What Else Can You Do?”).

These three guidelines are simple, straight forward and are a great tool for any level of leader to follow to ensure that they are communicating expectations to their teams. Ultimately, as leaders we’re responsible for driving results and these outlined processes will help you to do so!

The authors remind us that “only when you assume full accountability for your thoughts, feelings, actions, and results can you direct your own destiny; otherwise someone or something else will.”

Accountability is such a critical piece of individual and team success that in order to standout, you need to become good at either holding others accountable (if you’re a leader) or holding yourself accountable (if you’re not a leader). The OZ Principle helps both individuals and leaders with a proven process of how to do that. Told through a story that everyone knows, combined with real world examples, it’s easy to see why this book has been a best-seller on this topic.

We all are on the journey to find our own OZ. The journey is unique and different for all of us and our ability to hold ourselves and our teams accountable along the way will be a big determining factor in the success of this trip.

“There’s a lot to learn in OZ. Enjoy the journey!”

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Justin Gasbarre

ABOUT Justin Gasbarre

I am a Sales Professional who's passionate about helping and serving others. I currently work as an Enterprise Client Partner with FranklinCovey and consult with executives, business unit leaders, and human resources professionals to help them build their organizational talent...
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