Fix It: A book review by Bob Morris

Fix ItFix It: Getting Accountability Right
Roger Connors, Tom Smith, Craig Hickman, Tracey Skousen, and Marcus Nicolls
Portfolio/Penguin — An Imprint if Penguin Random House (2016)

Channeling Hillel the Elder: “If not now, when? If not you, who?”

Organizations are human communities within which everyone involved must somehow balance personal obligations to themselves with obligations to others. For me, the interdependence of these obligations best illustrates the importance of “The Oz Principle”: According to Roger Connors, Tom Smith, and Craig Hickman, “Accountability for results is at the very core of continuous improvement, innovation, customer satisfaction, team performance, talent development and corporate governance movements so popular today.” They go on to observe, “Interestingly, the essence of these programs boils down to getting people to rise above their circumstances and do whatever it takes (of course, within the bounds of ethical behavior) to get the results they want,” not only for themselves but also for everyone else involved in the given enterprise.

The primary purpose in their previous book, The Oz Principle, is “to help people become more accountable for their thoughts, feelings, actions, and results; and so that they can move their organizations to even greater heights. And, as they move along this always difficult and often frightening path, we hope that they, like Dorothy and her companions, discover that they really do possess the skills they need to do whatever their hearts desire.”

That is the same primary purpose in Fix It. Witten with Hickman, Tracey Skousen, and Marcus Nicolls, this book is a sequel in which Connors and Smith develop in much greater depth their concept of establishing a Culture of Accountability in the workplace.

Imagine an organization whose operations have a Line. Above it, Four “Steps to Accountability” when there is a problem:

1. See It
2. Own It
3. Solve It
4. Do It.

Below the Line, a regressive “The Blame Game” process begins once the problem appears:

Wait and See
“It’s Not My Job”
Confusion/ Tell Me What to Do
Cover Your Tail
Finger Pointing

“The more time you [and everyone else] spend Above the Line, the more effective you, your team, and your entire organization will be.”

Fix It presents the results of the previously unpublished “Workplace Accountability Study” conducted by Connors and Smith’s firm, Partners in Leadership. “With more than forty thousand respondents, the three-year study involved hundreds of organizations from a wide variety of industries and job titles.”

The results of that study offer additional evidence to explain why most of the companies annually ranked most highly admired and best to work for are also among ranked among those that are most profitable and have the greatest cap value in the industry segment. Of greater, more specific value to those who read this book are 240 solutions to the toughest business problems. Obviously, the nature and extent of any problem usually vary somewhat from one organization to another (e.g. attraction and retention of high-value) and therefore the nature and extent of the given solution will also vary. Hence the importance of the “Fix It Assessment.” It will guide and inform efforts to improve the mindset and the process to see a problem, own it, solve it, and then execute the solution (do it).

Some problems cannot be avoided but almost all problems can be fixed. That is true of human beings and it is also true of the organizations to which they belong. Years ago, my annual PSA (prostate-specific antigen) test indicated that I had prostate cancer. I took a second PSA test with identical results. After cryosurgery, PSA test results indicate no cancer. It is possible to develop analytics that measure the health of an organization in key areas. It is not only possible but indeed imperative to detect, diagnose, prescribe, and then eliminate the cause(s) — not merely the symptoms — to the problem ASAP. I agree with Roger Connors, Tom Smith, Craig Hickman, Tracey Skousen, and Marcus Nicolls that organizations must have everyone involved in that process, at all levels and in all areas. In Fix It, they thoroughly explain both HOW and WHY.

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