The Oz Principle – Be Accountable, Be Responsible, Be Answerable

In their book, The Oz Principle – Getting Results Through Individual and Organizational Accountability, Roger Connors, Tom Smith and Craig Hickman discuss the pervasive lack of accountability in the corporate world.

Dirty Little Secret

The dirty little secret is that most companies lack accountability and responsibility at all levels from the leader to the top executives to front-line managers to individual employees. As a result, companies do not execute and achieve what they set out to achieve.

As the authors point out, most companies fail because of managerial error, but not many senior executives involved will admit that fact. In fact, most companies explain away the brutal facts rather than confront the brutal facts head-on.

By contrast Andy Grove at Intel was famous for always being paranoid. But, this paranoia led to him being responsible and answerable for the success of Intel. His famous question was:

If we got kicked out and the board brought in a new CEO, what do you think he would do?

Keys to Accountability

The key to accountability is the willingness of an organization’s people to embrace full responsibility for the results they seek. Many organizations move from one illusion of what it takes to achieve organizational effectiveness to another without ever stopping long enough to discover the truth:

The results you seek depend on shouldering greater accountability for those results. The success or failure depends, first and foremost, upon the leadership and the people and their decisions and actions, all of which are under their own control.

The essence is to get people to rise above their circumstances and do whatever it takes (within ethical boundaries) to get the results they want. Even in the worst of circumstances, people cannot move forward if they just sit around feeling powerless and blaming others for their misery. Instead, as management guru Peter Drucker famously said, the key question for every employee in an organization is:

What can I contribute that will significantly affect the performance and the results of the institution I serve?

The Oz Principle

  • Above the Line – Steps to Accountability
    • See It
    • Own It
    • Solve It
    • Do It
  • Below the Line – The Blame Game
    • Wait and See
    • Confusion / Tell Me What to Do
    • It is Not My Job
    • Ignore / Deny
    • Finger Pointing
    • Cover Your Tail

Accountable employees, leaders and organizations spend all their time and effort operating above the line.


About David Shedd

David has been a President - CEO - COO of an up to $350M group of manufacturing, distribution, specialty retail and services companies, having led 22 different businesses from turnarounds to start-ups to fast growth companies.
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1 Response to The Oz Principle – Be Accountable, Be Responsible, Be Answerable

  1. Pingback: Building Accountability | David M. Shedd – Move Your Company Forward

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