The Oz Principle

by Roger Connors, Craig Hickman, Tom Smith

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Summary of Chapter 1 in The Oz Principle


Chapter 1 of The Oz Principle introduces the concept of personal accountability in achieving success. It emphasizes that individuals should adopt a proactive mindset, taking responsibility for their actions and outcomes rather than blaming external factors. The chapter uses the metaphor of Dorothy's journey in The Wizard of Oz to illustrate how taking ownership can lead to empowerment and positive change.

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What is the summary of chapter 1 in The Oz Principle?

Chapter one is called "Off to See the Wizard: Greater Accountability in Business" and opens with an exchange between Dorothy and the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz where he asks to go with her to ask the Wizard for a brain. Hickman, Connors, and Smith explain that many people—like the characters at the beginning of the story—see themselves as victims. The important thing is to learn to accept responsibility and be willing to take a proactive role in improving things.

The chapter explains that you need to be above the line of victimization, and there you'll find the steps toward greater productivity, morale, and motivation. By choosing to ignore the human impulse to look for excuses, redirect blame, and try to rationalize what's happened, you can take control of your business and push yourself to do better. The first step in this is to find out whether you're stuck in the victim cycle. Ask yourself whether you lack control, whether you focus on things that you can't change, and whether you often say things like, "It's not my job." Once you recognize that you're stuck in the cycle, you can start to work your way out of it.

Accountability for results can help push people to improve even when they don't feel their best. It's about rising about difficult circumstances to do what needs to be done. It's both a leadership issue and an organizational issue. Overall, though, the authors believe that you can't take a step toward accountability and improvement until you have the courage to take a step from below the line to above the line.

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What is the summary of chapter 1 in The Oz Principle?

The first chapter of The Oz Principle details the metaphor upon which the entire argument of the book is based. It discusses the protagonists from The Wizard of Oz and how each felt that they had been denied some fundamental key in how they wished they could perceive life. After their long and arduous journey, they find that the wizard himself is not only a bit of a charlatan but that the keys that they required to achieve their dreams were within them all along. The moral of this, according to the book, is the virtue of personal accountability.

The chapter then relates this to the practice of running a business or corporation. The titular principle dictates that leadership is not only a matter of taking credit for success but accepting responsibility for failure as well. While many people in a managerial capacity seem to consistently blame failure on some sort of external force or fundamental problem, it is better, according to the book, to take every shortcoming to heart as a personal one, allowing a leader to learn and be better prepared for future endeavors. The chapter ultimately claims that portraying oneself as the victim ultimately leads to an inhibition of growth and resignation to future failure.

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What is the summary of chapter 1 in The Oz Principle?

In chapter one of The Oz Principle, authors Roger Connors, Tom Smith, and Craig Hickman address the need for accountability among business leaders and their organizations. Accountable leaders claim responsibility not only for their accomplishments and successes but their mistakes and failures as well. More than managerial concepts or strategies, it is the ability to own and answer to business results that leads to continuous improvement, growth, and innovation within an organization.

When business leaders do not hold themselves accountable, they often fall prey to helplessness and self-pity. Similar to the main characters in The Wizard of Oz, they blame their circumstances or the people around them for their failure to solve problems or achieve organizational goals. Instead of reflecting on how their actions and behaviors may contribute to the problem, they make excuses for a lack of results. This defensive posture leaves little room for candid discussions regarding improvement or new directions necessary for a business to grow and thrive. The authors believe it is this victim mentality and self-preserving attitude that can destroy an organization.

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What is the summary of chapter 1 in The Oz Principle?

The Oz Principle examines the role of accountability in the achievement of business results and the improvement of both individual and organizational performance. The full title of the book is The Oz Principle: Getting Results Through Individual and Organizational Accountability and is essentially a book about leadership written by Roger Connors, Tom Smith, and Craig Hickman in 1994. The title, of course, is an allusion to Baum’s book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and interestingly discusses results and accountability and improvement in regards to both individuals and organizations.

Part one is entitled “The Oz Principle: Getting Results through Accountability” and the first chapter in that part is entitled “Off to See the Wizard: Searching for Greater Accountability in Business.” As such, it is only 15 pages long, but packs quite a punch. The chapter begins with a description of the original novel as a “journey of awareness,” which is exactly what this book wants to be a journey of as well: the awareness of the need for accountability. In short, Dorothy, stop blaming everyone but yourself because you had the power all along, no be accountable for it. Now, in the first chapter, Connors admits the following:

Most companies fail because of managerial error, but not many CEOs and senior executives involved will admit that fact.

Connors claims that it is time for accountability for these high level executives. Here Connors gives many examples of this fact from companies such as Lucent and Xerox (as the prime examples) of executives not wanting to take the fall for bad news on Wall Street. Excuses were key. Connors’ point is now wondering, “Can the wizards help?” in reference to “management wizards” who can help restore a company through productivity. In fact, many of these “wizards” have been hired and helped their companies achieve success.

In later parts of the chapter (and in conclusion to your question), Connors goes into naming the different people in all parts of the company that have a part of the accountability, all the while, he continues referencing Baum’s Wizard of Oz in that Dorothy is always swayed by smoke and mirrors as she moves toward the truth. Connors concludes his first chapter with the idea that accountability has true power, and it is this harnessed power that can help lead companies to greater success.

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What is the summary of chapter 1 in The Oz Principle?

In chapter 1 of The Oz Principle, we are introduced to the main theme of the book, which is the importance of personal accountability.

In keeping with the title's allusion to the children's classic The Wizard of Oz, chapter 1 of The Oz Principle starts off with a discussion between Dorothy and the Scarecrow in which the Scarecrow asks to go with Dorothy to the Wizard for a brain. Here, we are dealing with characters who feel that their lives are unfulfilled because they are missing something; in the case of the Scarecrow, a brain.

This is used as an example to illustrate the point that people too often see themselves as victims, unable to recognize that the key to what they want in life lies within themselves. The first step to breaking free from the cycle of victimization is to recognize that one is caught up in it. Once this step has been made, then it becomes possible to break out of the constricting mindset of victimhood and begin to accept accountability for one's actions.

Among other things, this allows us to work hard to make improvements in our lives and in our businesses. If we accept responsibility for our actions and the work that we do, then we are more likely to do our very best. In turn, this will give us the strength and the confidence to rise above difficult circumstances and deal with them effectively.

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What is the summary of chapter one in The Oz Principle?

The first chapter of the book “The OZ Principle” talks about the culture of victimization that is common in present-day America. Quoting from a variety of sources, it analyzes this culture and its effects on Americans. Victimization is defined as a “responsibility avoiding” syndrome in which participants strive for exposure even as they find people or objects to blame for their difficulties. The Oz Principle is a panacea to most of the victimization problems experienced by the corporate world. It states that “the power to rise above victimizing circumstances and obtain desired results lies within oneself”. The chapter serves as an introduction to the rest of the book, by explaining the ordering of later chapters. It states that the book aims to look at corporate success, and what it takes to achieve it, through a variety of “stories and experiences” of a diverse group of people and organizations.

Two concepts core to the concept of victimization are presented: below the line victimization, and above the line accountability. One represents failure, and the other represents success so that it could be said that “a thin line separates success and failure”. "Below the line victimization" is characterized by “an attitude of helplessness”, blame games and excuses, while "above the line accountability" is characterized by “a sense of reality” and a proactive approach to problem-solving.

In order for organizations or individuals to achieve "above the line accountability", they must “climb the steps to accountability” by taking up the following attitudes:

See it

This step involves identifying and accepting the reality of a situation.

Own it

This involves accepting responsibility for realities created for oneself and others.

Solve it

This step involves changing one’s reality through the implementation of unique solutions to problems without falling back into a “victimized” position when the going gets tough.

Do it

This is the final step and involves fearlessly following through the solutions identified in the “Solve it” step.

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What is the summary of chapter one in The Oz Principle?

There are many interesting details in Chapter 1 of The Oz Principle, but a summary is best served by focusing on the main messages of this introductory chapter:

  1. the potentially global repercussions of rejecting accountability in business
  2. characteristics of accountability
  3. definition of victimization
  4. introductory preliminaries presented in a "you will hear" section highlighting case histories formatted to illustrate points
  5. differences between victimization (blaming externals) and accountability (facing hard facts of failures)
  6. citing Charles Sykes' book A Nation of Victims as authority for victimization versus accountability approach
  7. presenting Above the Line Accountability (hard work) versus Below the Line Victimization (blaming, excusing)

Using well known business failures, such as Lucent, Enron and AT&T, and successes, such as Nortel and Intel (fewer successes are named) Connors, Hickman and Smith illustrate how a corporate failure can impact the global economy. Intel and Enron being good examples of good impact on global economy and bad impact, respectively. In conjunction with these examples, they present the characteristics of accountability and the definition of victimization:

  • Accountability: Face bad news head on; don't pass blame onto external economic or other conditions; don't be enamored of a love affair with favorable Wall Street analyst reports; do the hard work of finding solutions, as Intel did.
  • Victimization: I am, and the company is, the victim of external circumstances; I am not the cause of failures around me and within the company, as the CEO of Xerox said.

After cautioning against the "magic" of fads and management "wizards," they present scenarios of personal failure and success stories that will ripen their message of accountability, not victimization: "you will hear" about an executive "fighting for the life" of his company, about the General Electric CEO who took responsibility for failures, about "low level" employees facing genuine performance obstacles and many other personal experiences that convince of the magnitude of accountability.

The chapter culminates with a contrast between accountability and victimization, remarks on A Nation of Victims and the explanation of their theory of Above the Line Accountability and Below the Line Victimization. This introductory chapter aims to enliven energetic interest in the pursuit of accountability: an approach that changes results though accountable thinking.

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