The Oz Principle

With an unusual combination of cleverness and managerial perceptivity, the authors of THE OZ PRINCIPLE have latched upon an eye-catching yet appropriate metaphor to describe the state of America’s personal and corporate climate in the 1990’s. They believe Frank Baum’s delightful story of Dorothy’s adventures in the land of Oz can serve a blueprint for redesigning individual and corporate attitudes toward responsibility. Contemporary individuals must discover what Dorothy learned: The key to success is personal accountability.

Like many writers on contemporary business, Connors, Smith, and Hickman find the climate unhealthy. They claim, however, that many of the popular solutions offered by psychologists and management gurus are not really helpful, because they fail to get to the root of the problem. These authors suggest instead that people and corporations must learn to practice the Oz principle. Simply put, they believe “people hold inside themselves the power to rise above their circumstances and get the results they want.” Of course, few live by this principle. Instead, Americans are caught up in the miasma of victimology, content to blame outside forces for their personal and business failures. The way to success is not complicated. One need only follow the formula outlined in Baum’s fable: “see it” (recognize internal barriers to success), “own it” (admit personal responsibility for failure), “solve it” (create solutions one can implement oneself) and “do it” (follow through with actions that bring positive results). To be truly successful, people must act “above the line” that separates victims from achievers. Unfortunately, such behavior is rare, as the authors show by example after example.

If there is little in the way of revolutionary management theory in THE OZ PRINCIPLE, the authors nevertheless have much to offer in their analysis of individual and collective behavior patterns that threaten to drive corporations deeper into the malaise which seems to have beset American businesses. Useful, too, is their integration of the best of other management theories into a commonsense prescription for getting individuals to accept personal accountability and for helping corporations to get back on a winning track.