Friday, March 27, 2015

The Oz Principle: Getting Results through Individual and Organizational Accountability by Roger Connors

The Oz Principle: Getting Results through Individual and Organizational AccountabilityThe Oz Principle: Getting Results through Individual and Organizational Accountability by Roger Connors
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

So this book is sold as the ultimate guide in introducing accountability to your organization. I disagree with that pitch. They try to stretch the definition of accountability to include problem solving and taking action, but that is redefining the word. Yes, you might take on those other concepts if you feel accountable, but that does not make them part of the definition of accountability. So what is the book about? In my opinion, The Oz Principle is about attitude. All of the examples, including their expanded definition of accountability, all focus on changing and controlling your internal attitude in certain situations. Are you going to spend your time focused on blaming others (or holding them accountable?) or are you going to focus on how you can contribute to a solution?

If the book was really about accountability, then part of it would be how to decide who was responsible for what outcome, and how to hold them accountable for their performance to that outcome. But this book instead says to first make yourself accountable for everything you encounter! How have you contributed to the situation? Once you see the problem and own your part in it, how can you solve it?

Now don't get me wrong, I think this is a valuable concept. It is often more useful to move on to solving problems rather than pointing fingers. But to say that this advice regarding attitude is equal to the concept of accountability is flat wrong.

Now that I have that out of my system, what did I think about the content itself? Taking personal responsibility is good to a point, but was very one-sided. If you believe, as I do, in moderation in all things, then frankly there is a time for finger-pointing and blaming. If someone harms another person, we should find out who they are, hold them responsible in the court of law and then dispense justice. Our ability to do that defines us as a functioning society, in my mind. This books lacks the overall view point to make it on my must-read list. It was an ok read, and promotes a positive, problem-solving attitude, but oversells its overall value.

P.S. I have to add that I am big Oz fan, and read the whole series as a child. The attempt to relate the principles in this book to the characters and plot in the real Oz books is just a complete fail, and somewhat insulting to the original work. I think it was just a marketing strategy to attach the content to a well-known brand... not cool.