Posted March 3, 2015 by Joanna M. Iwata 

The Oz Principle: Part I

“We’re off to see the Wizard, the wonderful Wizard of Oz…because of the wonderful things s/he does!” 
Dorothy, The Lion, The Tin Man, and The Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz

When we think about our best practices and what is required for us to meet—if not exceed—the expectations of those to whom we report and to those who report to us, what would we identify as one of the key operating principles that allows us to effectively transform the norms to create high-performance teams in the workplace?

For instance, when we think about the basic operating principles that drive what we do in our leadership and management roles, how do we operationalize and make accountability work to create extraordinary results in our organizations? How easy or difficult is it to hold yourself and others accountable in not only talking the talk but walking it?

The Oz Principle book coverCan we pause and imagine for a moment what it would be like to work within an environment where “people love their jobs more, learn to cope more capably with daily obstacles, and get the result they want?”

Can we for another second imagine what it would be like to work within a learning organization that is truly committed to restoring accountability that not only focuses but celebrates both personal and corporate success?

One of the seminal business management books I have often referred to and incorporated in my staff development and training work is The Oz Principle: Getting Results Through Individual and Organizational Accountability, which was authored by a visionary team of experts—Roger Connors, Tom Smith, and Craig Hickman (quoted above).

What I found interesting about their principles is that they went beyond the notions that were then being highly touted by Stephen Covey in his best-selling 7 Habits of Effective Leaders to an arena tied into accountability that is oftentimes challenging for many of us to proactively and constructively address as managers.

It might be safe to say that if there is one thing we all wish to have more of, it might be accountability. This accountability stems not only from our supervisors being able to walk the talk but from the colleagues, professional staff, student leaders, faculty, staff, and other campus and community partners we work with on a 24/7 basis.

This desire provides us with a baseline to explore, examine, and share our best practices on how to hold each other accountable, as well as how to work with those around us to transform norms to create and sustain an extraordinary workplace.

Over the next several months, I will introduce different concepts highlighted in The Oz Principle for us to consider, as it would be difficult for me to do justice to the authors’ work otherwise. Moreover, I ask that you consider broaching these conversations informally or formally with a few of your colleagues, professional staff, and student leaders for their feedback.

For readers participating in this transformative accountability process, your assignment until next month is to:

  1. Define what accountability means to you and to others whom you work for or whom you supervise;
  2. Identify what this definition requires you to do individually and with others (including what gets in the way or prevents you from holding yourselves and each other accountable).

Let's begin this journey together to explore what happens as we go down the yellow brick road.

Joanna M. Iwata

Joanna M. Iwata is the AS Senior Coordinator for Governance and Operation at California State University–Monterey Bay.

Joanna has served ACUI in volunteer leadership roles since 1998, formerly as director of Region V and currently as inclusivity coordinator for Region I. She has authored articles on a wide range of topics, including leadership, management, diversity, teamwork, and organizational development, which have been featured in publications for ACUI, NACAS, and NASPA.


I adore this book and have actually presented about Accountability at regional and annual ACUI Conferences. I highly recommend this book and look forward to more of these thoughts pieces!
Jennifer Keegin
Comment posted 03/09/2015 2:33 PM
Note: To post a comment to The Commons, you must login to the ACUI website.
about the commons
The Commons is the online hub to discover new ideas and learn what is going on in the college union and student activities profession.
more ...
about the contributors

Meet the ACUI members who have volunteered to share their knowledge and insights as regular authors in The Commons.

more ...