What is the summary of Chapter 5 of The Oz Principle?

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djrharrison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

THE OZ PRINCIPLE: Getting Results Through Individual and Organizational Accountability, written by Roger Connors,Tom Smith, and Craig Hickman, uses the Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum as an analogy “for conveying principles of accountability” (p. ix).

Chapter 5, The Tin Woodsman: Finding the Heart to Own It, posits that those who feel victimized are not powerless to change their circumstance if they "own it." Unfortunately, in America today, many people in their personal lives and in their business/corporate lives do not have the heart to own the situation in which they find themselves. The Oz Principle lays the lack of American competitiveness at the feet of corporate boards who refuse to accept accountability for mistakes their organizations make. One example used is NASA’s 1990 launch of the Hubble telescope only to find that the telescope’s mirrors blurred the images. Nasa failed to see and own the mistake cost--not only 2.5 million dollars for the Hubble telescope, but millions more to find the culprit who caused the mistake--so they were still “looking for a scapegoat” in 1992 rather than owning the situation (p.117). Owning it would have saved time and money, allowing the Hubble to do its job far sooner than what actually happened. It was not fully operational until 10 years after its intended debut.

The theme of Chapter 5 can be summed up in this passage found on page 113: “seeing and owning the accountability side of a story does not mean suppressing or ignoring the victim facts; rather it means acknowledging and possessing the reality that you participate in and do not passively observe your circumstances.” The “own it” theme encourages “victims” to stop watching their lives go by as if they could not affect the outcome. In other words, life is not a spectator sport, like football, basketball, or any other team sport. While the history of some circumstances may be beyond a “victim’s” control, taking ownership and changing the current condition is within a person’s or organization’s control. The Bradco Company in California is given as an example of an organization that looked for and owned responsibility for cost overruns on a large building job. When that was done, adjustments were made that allowed Bradco to finish the project “on time and within budget” (p. 118).

The chapter also provides the means to evaluate a situation looking at both sides of the story with self-assessment worksheets and scoring guides. The self-assessment worksheets even allow for the startling observation that: “even those whom we would consider to be “true victims” must acknowledge that in order to have a better future for themselves, they must be accountable for where they go from here” (p. 123). Preventing victim stagnation and the universality of the principle of owning one’s circumstances are the two most important aspects of the the Oz principle exemplified by the Tin Woodsman.

The principle of ownership is not specific to any culture or company, but owning a problem or situation opens the door to change to all who strive for improvement. The trains run on time in Japan because “everyone buys into the problem and treats it as their own” (p. 125). A Florida couple exemplified “the Own It attitude” after their home was destroyed by Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and they moved to their vacation home on Kauai in the Hawaiian Islands only to have another hurricane destroy that home as well. Rather than becoming the victims of two hurricanes, this couple “acknowledged that they had built their homes in areas vulnerable to such disasters” and were able to “avoid the powerlessness that comes from being victims and … moved forward” (p. 124).

The take away in Chapter 5 is that Dorothy, in the Wizard of Oz, came to realize that the wizard couldn’t solve all her problems; results had to come from her own will and actions. Like Dorothy, American individuals and/or companies must stop looking for someone to blame and someone else to solve all their problems. According to The Oz Principle, so-called “victims” must own the circumstance and move forward to the life results they want.

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The Oz Principle

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