The Oz Principle: Getting Results Through Individual and Organizational Accountability
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The Oz Principle: Getting Results Through Individual and Organizational Accountability

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by Roger Connors, Craig Hickman, Tom Smith, Tom Smith, Craig Hickman

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Now in paperback, "The Oz Principle" shows how people in business suffer from the same feelings of anxiety and helplessness that beset the characters in "The Wizard of Oz". The authors show how people can move beyond victimization to overcome obstacles, accept responsibility, and rise to new heights of achievement.


Now in paperback, "The Oz Principle" shows how people in business suffer from the same feelings of anxiety and helplessness that beset the characters in "The Wizard of Oz". The authors show how people can move beyond victimization to overcome obstacles, accept responsibility, and rise to new heights of achievement.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
The Oz Principle describes what we’ve all suspected - that it isn’t just America in crisis, but the American character. The good news is that Connors, Smith, and Hickman also describe the ‘yellow brick road’ we must follow to rebuild the dominant qualities to achieve success.”

—Stephen R. Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

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Oasis Audio
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Abridged, 2 Cassettes
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4.60(w) x 7.00(h) x 0.80(d)

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The Oz Principle

Getting Results Through Individual and Organizational Accountability
By Roger Connors


Copyright © 2004 Roger Connors
All right reserved.

ISBN: 1591840244

Chapter One


"Who are you?" asked the Scarecrow when he had stretched himself and yawned, "and where are you going?"

"My name is Dorothy," said the girl, "and I am going to the Emerald City, to ask the great Oz to send me back to Kansas."

"Where is the Emerald City?" he inquired; "and who is Oz?"

"Why, don't you know?" she returned, in surprise.

"No, indeed; I don't know anything. You see, I am stuffed, so I have no brains at all," he answered sadly.

"Oh," said Dorothy; "I'm awfully sorry for you."

"Do you think," he asked, "if I go to the Emerald City with you that Oz would give me some brains?"

"I cannot tell," she returned; "but you may come with me, if you like. If Oz will not give you any brains you will be no worse off than you are now."

"That is true," said the Scarecrow. -The Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum

Like all powerful literature, The Wizard of Oz continues to enthrall audiences because its plot strikes a nerve. The book recounts a journey toward awareness; and from the beginning of their journey, the story's main characters gradually learn that they possess the power within themselves to get the results they want. Until the end, they think of themselves as victims of circumstance, skipping down the yellow brick road to the Emerald City where the supposedly all-powerful Wizard will grant them the courage, heart, wisdom, and means to succeed. The journey itself empowers them, and even Dorothy, who could have clicked her red slippers and returned home at any time, must travel the yellow brick road to gain full awareness that only she herself can achieve her desires. People relate to the theme of a journey from ignorance to knowledge, from fear to courage, from paralysis to powerfulness, from victimization to accountability, because everyone has taken this same journey himself. Unfortunately, even the most ardent admirers of the story often fail to learn its simple lessons: Don't get stuck on the yellow brick road; don't blame others for your circumstances; don't wait for wizards to wave their magic wands; and never expect all your problems to disappear. In today's complex environment, the temptation to feel and act like victims has become so pervasive that it has created a very real crisis.


Most companies fail because of managerial error, but not many CEOs and senior executives involved will admit that fact. Instead of taking responsibility for shortfalls and failures, far too many of today's business leaders offer every conceivable excuse from a shortage of resources to inept staff to competitor sabotage. From presidents in the Oval Office to entrepreneurs in the garage, no one wants to take responsibility for their misjudgments and mistakes. Yes, shortfalls and failures occur every day. This is a natural part of business and life, part of the human experience, but attempting to duck responsibility for such shortfalls and failures serves only to prolong suffering, retard correction, and prevent learning. Only acceptance of greater accountability for results can get a person, a team, or an organization back on the path to success.

Unfortunately, no one wants to hear the brutal facts associated with bad news, especially Wall Street. No wonder the public's confidence in the economy, the stock market, business in general, and CEOs in particular, has plummeted to new lows. After Lucent's stock price dropped in value by more than 80 percent, CEO Rich McGinn was replaced because he had listened and responded to Wall Street rather than to his own company's scientists and salespeople. Lucent scientists were telling him that the company was losing its position in new optical technology; his salespeople were telling him that sales were being propped up by deep discounting. But that wasn't the sort of news that Wall Street wanted to hear, and McGinn knew it. McGinn had gotten very good at delivering unwavering growth, and stock analysts loved it. As a result, Wall Street glorified McGinn and his executive team. McGinn and Wall Street, it was a match made in economic heaven. Sadly, however, it was a fool's match made in a temporary heaven. Lucent's scientists and salespeople were eventually proven right. Competitor Nortel eclipsed Lucent by introducing improved voice and data transmission technology with huge market success, leaving Lucent lagging far behind, and the deep discounting eventually devastated the bottom line. McGinn was finally replaced by Henry Schacht, who spent his first few months on the job reminding Lucent shareholders and the rest of the world that a company's stock price is a byproduct, not a driver, of success. When the entire global economic system seems to favor rhetoric and excuses over results and accountability, the problem threatens us all.

It threatened Xerox, even though Xerox CEO Anne Mulcahy finally faced reality and told Wall Street analysts that the company had an "unsustainable business model." Her acceptance of that reality came too late, as Xerox teetered on the brink of bankruptcy. For years, Xerox executives had been blaming the company's poor performance on everything from international politics to economic fluctuations to market upheavals, never facing the bad news of the company's deeply flawed business model. Management wizard Jim Collins, best-selling author of Good to Great and Built to Last, argues that what must glaringly separate great companies from mediocre ones is the latter's tendency "to explain away the brutal facts rather than to confront the brutal facts head-on." Companies such as Lucent and Xerox sank into mediocrity because they attempted to avoid accountability for the underlying causes of their bad news. They're not alone. The list of well-known companies that encounter problems, fail to face bad news and deal with it, and waste time justifying and explaining inadequate performance continues to grow. Enron, Arthur Andersen, Global Crossing, Kmart, Sunbeam, Tyco, WorldCom, AT&T, Polaroid, and Qwest all became slaves to Wall Street, turned a deaf ear to bad news, oversold their strategies, dumbed down their cultures, glorified their bosses, and made countless other mistakes that destroyed value.

Even though Wall Street sends its share of wrong messages and certainly needs revamping, that's no excuse for any company to sit back and wait for the government to fix the system, or to blame others or circumstances beyond their control for poor results. When bad things unexpectedly happen, as they always do, or when serious errors in judgment occur, as they do more often than most of us wish to admit, accountable companies and their executives take action to control the damage and set a new course for achieving results. Much of Intel's current success dates back to a pivotal moment of accountability almost two decades ago. Japanese companies were pushing Intel's main line of business, memory chips, into the realm of cheap commodities. In a now famous interchange that still guides Intel's culture, CEO Andy Grove asked COO Gordon Moore, "If we got kicked out and the board brought in a new CEO, what do you think he would do?" They answered that question by acknowledging the hard facts, facing reality, and taking decisive action. They got out of the memory chip business and into microprocessors. After that, they did what they had to do to redirect the company, and that has made all the difference. Andy Grove's and Gordon Moore's decision to face some harsh realities and take their company in a whole new direction showed their employees, shareholders, and those on Wall Street who were willing to face reality that accountability pays, and pays handsomely, if you can only muster the necessary courage, heart, and wisdom to accept it.

Most people in organizations today, when confronted with poor performance or unsatisfactory results, immediately begin to formulate excuses, rationalizations, and arguments for why they should not be held accountable, or at least, not fully accountable for an organization's problems. Such cultures of failed accountability or victimization have weakened business character, stressing ease over difficulty, feeling good over being good, appearance over substance, saving face over solving problems, and illusion over reality. This trend toward victimization will only further weaken business character, deluding business leaders into providing quick fixes over long-term solutions, immediate gains over enduring progress, and process over results. If left uncorrected in an organization, victim attitudes can erode productivity, competitiveness, morale, and trust to the point that correction becomes so difficult and expensive that the organization can never fully heal itself or its people.


Global business leaders have long been searching for management wizards who will magically bestow greater productivity, lower costs, expanded market shares, world-class competitiveness, swifter speed to market, continuous improvement, and instant innovation. With great excitement and fanfare, these wizards have taken the world's largest corporations on breathtaking adventures down attractive, but imaginary, paths to Oz, where the leaders eventually discover more make believe than make it happen. When you pull back the curtains you discover the incontrovertible fact, as did Dorothy and her companions, that success springs not from some new-fangled fad, paradigm, process, or program but from the willingness of an organization's people to embrace full accountability for the results they seek.

Do all the new management solutions bring an organization great success and force its competitors to their knees? Hardly. Such solutions fall by the wayside in a year or two in favor of the next wave of management wizardry, bringing with it the hope of undiscovered improvements, profits, and growth. Moving from one illusion of what it takes to achieve organizational effectiveness to another, executives never stop long enough to discover the truth, that when you strip away all the trappings, gimmicks, tricks, techniques, methods, and philosophies of the latest management fads, you find one clear and compelling fact: The results you seek depend on shouldering greater accountability for those results. Regardless of the shape and texture of your organization's structure, the scope and sophistication of its systems, or the completeness and profoundness of its latest strategy or revitalized culture, your organization will not succeed in the long run unless people assume accountability for achieving desired results. Unless executives stop fooling around with the symptoms of organizational malaise, abandon their preoccupation with new-fangled philosophies that emerge each season, and start uncovering and putting to work the fundamental cause of success, they will simply continue to wallow in one distraction after another.

In our view, the quest for greater results has, for too many business organizations, culminated in little more than a series of smokescreens and mirrors because it has failed to follow The Oz Principle. Like Dorothy and the Scarecrow and the Lion and the Tin Man, the power and ability to rise above your circumstances and achieve the results you desire resides within you. It may be a long journey of self-discovery, but in the end, you'll find you possessed that power all along. In this book, we want to go beyond current management and leadership fads, trends, and philosophies by focusing on the very heart of what it takes to attain success in business. This anniversary edition of The Oz Principle will draw upon more than a decade of experience at Partners In Leadership implementing the concepts and ideas presented in this book in hundreds of organizations. We will draw upon the experiences of thousands of individuals and hundreds of teams from a wide variety of both established and emerging companies whose stories will, we hope, strike a nerve the same way The Wizard of Oz has for generations.

For instance, you'll meet an executive who tells how he and his associates consciously ignored the eroding competitiveness of their company's products and marketing programs over the years, pretending that things would get better without investing a huge amount of effort. He describes in his own words how the company finally came to face reality and began fighting for its life, the first step toward getting the results it once took for granted. Many of the best-run, most-admired corporations succumb from time to time to attitudes of victimization, failing to understand and apply the basic principles and attitudes that get results. Even the brilliant Jack Welch, Chief Executive Officer of General Electric for twenty years and font of wisdom for many American executives, failed more often than many people realize, but, like all truly accountable people, he accepted responsibility for overcoming any setback.

You'll also hear from people at lower levels in their organizations, who, while experiencing genuine obstacles to performance, allowed themselves to get stuck in attitudes of victimization when only they themselves possessed the power to break the pattern and get results. For example, you'll meet a man who claims he can't advance within his company because his boss won't provide the coaching he needs; a director of financial analysis who worries that she's been taken off the fast track because she's a woman and needs more time with her children; a cake decorator who becomes distressed when her boss tells her to "get the lead out" and "get yourself into high gear," prompting her to sue the company; a marketing manager who blames R&D's late product introduction for his division's loss of market share and his own flagging performance; a CEO who argues that too much shareholder oversight has stifled the risk-taking of companies like his; and a department store buyer who fumes daily because it's just too hard to get anything done in a bureaucracy totally tangled up in red tape.

Then you'll meet people with attitudes of accountability who work hard to hold themselves and others responsible for achieving the results they want. For example, at AES, the builder and operator of electricity-producing cogeneration plants, CEO Roger Sant implemented a "they busters" campaign with all the necessary buttons, posters, and flyers to help workers stop blaming the elusive "they" who always seem to stifle results. "They" represent all the finger-pointing, denying, ignoring, pretending, and waiting habits that grow up in organizations and keep people from taking charge of their own destinies. It worked, and AES's productivity has been climbing ever since. It's hard work.



Excerpted from The Oz Principle by Roger Connors Copyright © 2004 by Roger Connors. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are saying about this

Stephen R. Covey
Describes the 'yellow brick road' we must follow to rebuild the dominant qualities required to achieve success. -- Author of Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

Meet the Author

Tom Smith and Roger Connors are cofounders of Partners in Leadership, an international management consulting firm with hundreds of clients in almost all major industries. They are also the coauthors of Journey to the Emerald City, a sequel toThe Oz Principle.

Roger Connors and Tom Smith are cofounders of Partners in Leadership, an international management consulting firm with hundreds of clients in almost all major industries. They are also the coauthors of Journey to the Emerald City, a sequel toThe Oz Principle.

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Oz Principle 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 53 reviews.
DougJ More than 1 year ago
The Oz Principle is a book that has changed my life! It is a must read for anyone that interacts with someone else. The idea of laying a foundation of personal accountability is needed by anyone who works, is a parent, is a child or is a spouse. The authors taught me how to recognize when I am "Below The Line." The book motivates the reader to internalize the need for change and to look for "what else can I do" to achieve results. The Oz Principle helps you define and get clear on the results that you need to achieve. You can then create alignment around those results and then create accountability to deliver those results at every level of your organization or family. This is the first book of it' kind that I have read that was logical and easy to understand.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Oz Principle gives you a practical way to improve personal accountability and then sustain it. Our company gives a copy of the book to each employee as they join the company. The language "Above the Line" and "Below the Line" is used throughout the company with a common understanding. Employees don't say "It's not my job" but rather "What else can I do?" It's amazing the results you can acheive with that attitude. This is a must read.
MN1542 More than 1 year ago
I was very impressed with how The Oz Principle handled the difficult, yet ever-important subject of accountability. The use of the Wizard of Oz metaphor makes the book and its content accessible for anyone. Furthermore, the charts, assessments and graphs grabbed my attention and made me want to learn more. I then went on to read the sequel, "Journey to the Emerald City," and was equally impressed. I am very much looking forward to the release of the third book, "How Did That Happen?"
JZ68 More than 1 year ago
In a time when people everywhere are uncertain about the future, this book gives you some tools and ideas for what else you can do, to keep things moving in the right direction. With simple and easy to apply concepts, The Oz Principle helps you to think outside the box, to find creative solutions to everyday problems. Achieving results becomes so much easier, when you know what you can do to contribute to the cause. No matter who you are, or what you do for a living, this book can help you to see beyond the circumstances before you; to reach the goal on the horizon.
Hank42 More than 1 year ago
There are some concepts in life that need to be more fully explained, explored, and identified to help us realize all we can. The contents of this book do that. Examining accountability as a concept that provides leverage for accomplishments, the authors show that making excuses for a lack of results is simply not helpful for either individuals or organizations. The authors demonstrate the creative drive and imaginative spirit of people for realizing accomplishments when they consistently, as the authors say, stay Above The Line regarding accountability. This is not about thoughtless enthusiasm and cheerleading, it is not about using the proverbial club to make people accountable. It is about the necessity of a positive understanding of accountability and its application to achieve results.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The concepts in The Oz Principle have helped me personally as well as professionally stop making excuses and rise above my circumstances. I realized that I need to take ownership for changing the things I can change and take accountability for meeting the challenges and goals in front of me. A great read for anyone.
mexigirl More than 1 year ago
The Oz Principle has so many tools that I can use both in my professional and personal life. I find myself using some of the key terms the books instills "working above the line and "what else can I do". I learned that "staying above the line" is where I realize my goals and objectives, that everyone goes below the line from time to time (we are all human), and that not much is accomplished when I'm there. I also learned that when I have a difficult task to achieve I can ask and answer the question, "What else can I do," and that helps me find solutions to obstacles.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you are looking for a simple guide to a complex business and career problem, preferably a guide based on children's literature, this is for you. The consultant authors believe that a 'victim' culture, consisting mainly of refusal to accept accountability, is one of the gravest problems facing businesses in general and business people in particular. The victim culture stalls organizations and individual careers. Therefore, this book offers a guide to overcoming your personal victim culture through various self-help techniques, and to overcoming organizational victim cultures by related managerial practices. We understand and advocates personal and corporate accountability, the underlying theme of the book. And if the Oz metaphor is, perhaps, a little stretched here, just go with it. The advice is sound enough. Then, like Dorothy, the tin man, the lion and the scarecrow, you, too, can journey down the Yellow Brick Road to a magic kingdom where your every wish will be granted. What more can you ask for in a business book?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
After reading The Oz Principle I realized how much our company worked "Below the Line, The Blame Game". The Oz Principle is an eye opening book that brings strength to individual employees to be accountable for their own actions within the company guidelines. The principles for change to work "Above the Line" are easy to follow and weave into the business culture. The Oz Principle has caused the staff to incorporate these positive methods. Everyone from the mailroom clerk to the President is excited and is taking ownership of their results. Thanks for writing about simple principles of accountability and providing clear steps to follow.
sj255 More than 1 year ago
This book is in my top 5 all-time favorite business books. The analogy they use of the Wizard of Oz clearly illustrates the principles of accountability that are too often lacking in society and in organizations. I am convinced that creating more accountability will produce results.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was assigned by my organization to read, "The Oz Principle," in preparation for our upcoming training with them. I thought this would be another ho-hum, somewhat interesting management training book, I was wrong!! This book provided insights and practical applications from the get-go, it was well worth my time, and better yet the training built off of what I had learned in the book and took me and produced amazing results for me and my organization! I would highly recommend, "The Oz Principle."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book cover to cover on a flight to Europe and I immediately got one for all of my managers/leadersin my department. The central thesis of being "Below The Line" is critical as is the concept of "Blaming others - Blame Storming". We all see this in our organizations and realize the counter productive nature/effect of these traits, and the need to stop it. The Oz Principle teaches how to identify requirements for change and get clear on results, create alignment around those results, create accountability at every level of the organization and to do it in a way that is sustainable. Add this book," Journey to the Emerald City" same authors Smith/Connors, and "Take a message to Garcia", by Elbert Hubbard, to your library .
SueW52 More than 1 year ago
No more the victim... As the nation reels from the effects of the current economy, The Oz Principle continues to deliver a message that has timeless application. The Oz Principle helps define what it means to be stuck in the victim mentality. It provides clear steps to eliminate the endless cycle of blame and excuses and assists individuals in taking the empowering steps to personal accountability. Webster's definition of accountability as subject to report or justify is redefined to a more proactive approach. It helps individuals focus on the result in spite of obstacles. The Oz Principle's message will ring true to those dealing with personal issues as well as within the world of business. I read this book many years ago and applied it to my personal life and moved myself from a "victim" of divorce to an empowered single mother. When I moved back into the world of business and reread the book, I found that I could also utilize its principles to my approach to work. It helped me to stay focused on the result. It also helped me help others on my team move Above The Line and take the Steps to Personal Accountability. I strongly encourage anyone who may be feeling repeatedly "victimized" to read this book and take a fresh look at how they approach their life and business.
AMC69 More than 1 year ago
I was inspired to read The Oz Principle by a friend who, on several occasions, raved about the encouraging effect it's had on her company since they began rolling out the training. She's talked about the wonderful changes in trust, morale and teamwork which she attributes to a new positive definition of accountability and a central model called the "Steps To Accountability". I picked up the book and couldn't put it down. The concepts are easy to apply in everyday life - business and personal. The Oz Principle has made such a positive change in my view of accountability that I'm going to buy another copy for my manager and recommend that she brings the training to our organization.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a serial entrepreneur having founded several businesses and grown some of them to 100+ employees.   Regardless of your business goals, if your people are not accountable it will be a struggle to achieve your goals. Accountability is the foundation . . . and the OZ Principle is the best book on accountability I have reviewed. This book impacted me so much that it became mandatory reading (or listening) for all personnel from receptionist to VP.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book teaches the valuable lesson that it simply is not effective to play the victim, even if we are a victim. It's time to get "Above the Line" and not let things that have happened to me get in my way. If I want a result I now know how to wield the power of accountability to achieve it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This would be a great book for the person in charge of a company, or the person with subordinates... however as a proud member of the working class I found this book insulting. The authors make an effort to 'sell' the concept that the even the lowest level worker benefits from these principles. In the perfect workplace, maybe they would benefit, but in the real world of egos, competition and low wages the working class is there to benefit the leaders. When the authors make a new principle for entry-level workers and the middle class I'll try reading that!
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