Posted May 4, 2015 by Joanna M. Iwata 

The Oz Principle, Part III: There’s No Place Like Home

Commons Contributor Joanna Iwata is writing a monthly series that introduces successive concepts highlighted in The Oz Principle: Getting Results Through Individual and Organizational Accountability. Read her first article and second article in the series.

Part III

This being the second to the last of the series of four posts related to The Oz Principle, we will focus on how to get to the extraordinary results we envision by enacting a more proactive accountability model in working with our teams.

Earlier, we touched on the basic principles associated with individual and group accountability and what gets in the way (operating with “Below The Line” behaviors), and we also explored what it would take to operate with our teams in new ways (“Above the Line” behaviors).

Have we ever noticed when such discussions around accountability usually come up? Is it usually after a problem presents itself, at which point we or our teams may either be too eager to blame or point fingers and not take responsibility for the outcomes we expected?

The Oz Principle book coverConnors, Smith, and Hickman suggest we reframe what we mean by accountability, defining it 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.” As the authors indicate, this definition works best when “people share ownership for circumstances and results.”

They then provide three guidelines to hold people accountable—the Oz Principle Way—that revolve around our ability to:

  1. Define the Result
  2. Determine a Mutually Agreeable Time for a Progress Report
  3. Deliver Praise or Coaching

Using these basic outcome-based principles, can we imagine what it would be like to work in an organization where people share ownership for circumstances and results or where “the real value of accountability stems from a person’s or an organization’s ability to influence events and outcomes before they happen?”

Can we also imagine what it would be like to be in a workplace where “people don’t fear accountability but teach and coach each other in order to win whatever game they’re playing… where accountability propels everyone forward” versus backward?

Lastly, what would it be like to invite honest feedback from everyone about not only our own performances but also those of our teams? Can we imagine committing ourselves 110 percent to what we’re doing? More importantly, can we imagine owning our circumstances and results (even when they don’t quite meet our expectations or those of others) as a team?

If you can imagine this and commit to doing this with your teams, then congratulations! You are now beginning to move toward getting the results you want and operating “Above the Line!”

Connors et al. again provide us with wonderful examples of how accountability can work by illustrating this via the Lion (mustering the courage to See It), The Tin Woodsman (finding the heart to Own It), the Scarecrow (obtaining the wisdom to Solve It), and Dorothy (exercising the means To Do It). Refer to chapters 4-7 in The Oz Principle for more details (consider reviewing the assessment tools provided by the authors).

Doing so ultimately entails asking critical questions such as “If we really ‘owned it,’ what would we do differently?” More importantly, it involves taking a step back to examine the individual and team lessons from our experiences (failures and successes, challenges and opportunities) that we can now apply differently as we move forward.

In the next and last post on The Oz Principle, we will explore how the extraordinary can occur when leaders and managers apply the principles of interdependence and joint accountability as they begin to master “Above the Line” leadership. Naturally, all of this revolves around how we can build accountability into every facet of our organization at every level through six culture-creating devices, which can be reviewed in chapter 9.

As Stephen Covey would say, “Begin with the end in mind.” Ultimately, the state of accountability is not somewhere over the rainbow but available for us to tap into both here and now with our teams, through a new collective accountability approach to transform the norms in our workplace with our teams—after all, there is no place like home (base) to get the results we seek. 

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.


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