When a colleague you respect recommends a book on accountability you can take it the wrong way and ignore him, or go to Amazon and buy it. That’s what I did and the book was almost finished by the weekend.
It led me to consider the issue of accountability. I’m sure we all agree that ‘business lives and dies by its people’. In a world where so many companies with great people are failing, perhaps it’s accountability that’s a key determinant in creating top performing companies. In fact, many Fortune companies put part of their success down to developing a culture of accountability. Leadership Partners in the US, point to clear business improvements through accountability as well as it improving personal and team relationships and reducing stress. However my experience suggests that it’s often despite a lack of accountability that organisations succeed. Rather than accountability, we often see a blame culture and excuses as dominant forces in modern business.
So back to that book – The Oz Principle has been a New York Times bestseller for almost a decade, yet its lessons remain a hidden gem. The books ideas aid business and personal transformation. At its core is the story of the Wizard of Oz – transformation is achieved by looking within and focusing on what we’ve got, not what we haven’t. The Oz Principle is sticky and easy to digest.
What holds many businesses back is a victim mentally – what the book calls ‘working below the line’. This blame culture means the energy of individuals, teams and corporations is wasted finger pointing, blaming, covering backs, not acting at all and ignoring and denying key problems. As Rupert Murdoch ponders the unravelling of his corporation, it is easy to see how a lack of Accountability at News International has been a key reason for its poor governance, poor practice and poor ethics.
However we shouldn’t escape being un-accountable by thinking it is merely the preserve of rogue companies like News International. The dictionary definition of accountability is
‘subject to having to report ….. being answerable, responsible’.
However The Oz Principle’s new paradigm for Accountability sees it not just as a reactive activity. It sees accountability as a pro-active empowering tool for driving results rather than a way of measuring activity. Critically the question becomes not ‘who is accountable for failing to achieve the result’ but, ‘who is accountable for achieving the result’. Moving from a task orientated mind-set, to a result focused one leaves everyone feeling empowered and inspired to deliver.
A great example of this is the Disney Corporation. It ensures that every one of its employees at Disneyland is focused on making my kids visit unforgettable. It’s easy to understand why my children will always remember their day in the Magical Kingdom. Its not rocket science, but it’s missing in many organisations, and in many peoples personal lives.
By clearly defining accountability, aligning organisational, team and personal goals and eliminating the blame game we start the road to real organisational change. Critical to the success of this process is honesty, trust and understanding. The blame game is accentuated and amplified by misunderstanding, positional games and poor communication. Any company that pretends this doesn’t happen in their organisation is deluded.
This is where Lumina Spark has a role to play in developing Accountable and Inspiring organisations. Lumina’s simple and effective tools for accelerating people’s understanding of themselves and others is a critical catalyst. By seeing the world through the lens of other people in your team, you quickly develop trust, see other points of view and move more quickly above the line. Here you can see the issues more clearly, own them as your own and start the process of solving problems and achieving results. The murky world of misunderstanding your colleagues, your bosses and your organisational goals can rapidly clear, and can support your business to become more accountable, productive and happy.
Our Thanks to the Oz Principles authors Roger Connors, Tom Smith and Craig Hickman, for helping us along our own yellow brick road. And our appreciation to Ricardo Lillo, the ever inspiring CEO of DOOR International, for offering the direction to take the road.