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How Did That Happen?: Holding People Accountable for Results the Positive, Principled Way

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A simple, proven approach to improve accountability and your company's bottom line.

The economy crashes, the government misfires, businesses fail, leaders don't lead, managers don't manage, and the people we count on for the results that affect our own performance don't follow through, leaving us asking, "How did that happen?"

All the surprises caused by a lack of personal accountability plague almost every organization today, from the political arena to every large and small business. How Did That Happen? offers a proven way to eliminate these nasty surprises, gain an unbeatable competitive edge, and enhance performance by holding others accountable the positive, principled way.

As the experts on workplace accountability and authors of The Oz Principle, the classic book on personal accountability, Roger Connors and Tom Smith now tackle the next crucial step everyone can take, whether as a manager, supervisor, CEO, or individual performer: creating greater accountability in all the people on whom you depend.

Connors and Smith have spent decades implementing their approach to creating greater accountability in some of the world's most admired companies. Through hundreds of successful client applications, they have proven that organizational accountability can be the single most important factor in ensuring a company's success. Now, they present the Accountability Sequence, a systematic and sensible approach that includes two essential components: The Outer Ring, which reveals how to establish expectations and positive accountability connections with everyone in the Expectations Chain. The Inner Ring, which shows how to manage unmet expectations when people fail to deliver and thereby reverse the misfortune of missed results.

Using case studies, practical models, and self-assessments, the authors make it possible for anyone to install accountability as a central part of their daily work, their team's efforts, or an overall corporate culture-and, in turn, increase profits and generate better results.

272 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2009

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Roger Connors

26 books13 followers

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5 stars
441 (43%)
4 stars
296 (29%)
3 stars
201 (19%)
2 stars
57 (5%)
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15 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 27 of 27 reviews
Profile Image for Stephen.
659 reviews56 followers
February 21, 2018
READ 2018

This is an excellent piece for anyone interested in becoming accountable, or helping their team become accountable.
Profile Image for Eric Anest.
44 reviews11 followers
September 25, 2012
How Did That Happen? is written by two management consultants who seek to share their wisdom on how to set expectations and hold people accountable (or rather, encourage them to take accountability for themselves).

The authors have many wise points to make, and I'm glad I took the time to read the book. My biggest complaint is that they have developed a specialized vocabulary of capitalized terms--Inner Ring, Outer Ring, Above the Line, etc.--that they seem to think people will actually use. The Conclusion, where the authors have a mock conversation using all these terms, was simply laughable.

Still, if you can ignore that weakness, you'll find your leadership skills strengthened by applying the wisdom presented in this book.
Profile Image for Florence Tandy.
9 reviews1 follower
December 20, 2015
Great, practical advice for anyone who is responsible for the results of others. All supervisors should read this.
Profile Image for Ian Colby.
126 reviews11 followers
February 7, 2018
I have an inherent hatred of self-help books. This is a self-help book. I was half expecting a PATENTED PHRASE™ every other sentence. Instead I got it EVERY sentence. I'm surprised they waited until the end to sell me DVDs rather than throughout.

This book, like all self-help books, reads like astrology. You read what you want to see. There's no thoroughness, rationality/logic, or reasonable doubt. "If you follow our patented Outer and Inner Ring methods, you WILL succeed at accountability" (Why rings? The book never explains).

Of course, when you can't just "align" (i.e. inspire) your workers to see it your way with the checkboxes they provide, it's ultimately your fault for not following through.

I didn't need to read 240 pages to follow a BULLSHIT PATENTED METHOD™ for inspiring workers.
7 reviews1 follower
March 18, 2023
It is a good read for anyone who has started getting into managerial shoes, building their own teams, and learning to create a culture of accountability. Well-structured content, layering the problems into different stages, some entirely in your control (expectation setting and alignment), others being a mix of factors within (motivation issues)/ outside your control (inadequate skills) and how you can approach each one of them. Some of the jargons could have been avoided, but overall a good read.
Profile Image for Bill Zoelle.
46 reviews16 followers
January 15, 2020
Some really great content in this book. If someone were to come up with a summary version it would be better. It was pretty painful to wade through all the made up jargon, self promotion, story examples for concepts that really didn’t require it, and redundancies. It was worth the effort, but it certainly didn’t need to be so difficult.
18 reviews
April 18, 2020
A must read!

For those who want to develop their skills of holding people accountable, a must-read.
People use this word a lot without really knowing what it means.
This book, along with Crucial Accountability, will give you the software upgrade you need to master Accountability conversations.
1 review
June 6, 2020

An actionable tool guide for redefining the way we implement ACCOUNTABILITY. A must read for all leaders. I wish I read this when I first became a manager.
7 reviews
December 28, 2021
Practical guidance through accountability - what it is, how to share the vision of an accountable organization, and how to keep accountability in play within your teams.
Profile Image for Gene Babon.
181 reviews76 followers
August 25, 2022
Accountable people get results. Accountable cultures produce results. If you work for a living, and other people are involved in the process, then this book is a must-read, both for you and for others in your organization.

How Did That Happen? shows you how to hold others accountable for delivering on expectations in a positive, principled way that delivers results. The authors present a systematic framework for establishing expectations (The Outer Ring) and dealing with unmet expectations (The Inner Ring).

The Outer Ring—to hold someone accountable means to effectively perform four actions—form, communicate, align and inspect—that contribute to the fulfillment of an expectation.

The journey to completing The Outer Ring includes helpful checklists and self-assessments including:

~ The Five Connection Questions
~ Seven Clues for Detecting a Negative Connection
~ The Top Five Reasons People Don't Hold Others Accountable
~ The Seven Most Common Mistakes People Make When Communicating Expectations

The Inner Ring—to determine why expectations are falling short requires "accountability conversations" that help you assess the need for one of four solutions—motivation, training, accountability and culture.

The journey to completing The Inner Ring includes helpful checklists and self-assessments including:

~ Six Conversation Killers
~ Seven Telltale Measures of Motivation
~ Four Techniques for Enrolling Others in the "Cause"
~ The Five D's Fast Training Model
~ The Five Common Accountability Cultures

The Bottom Line on How Did That Happen?—skillfully managing unmet expectations is a characteristic of any organization that enjoys or aspires to greatness.

How Did That Happen? is my second candidate for Best Business Books of 2010. The first is Getting Things Done published in 2001.

Access Gene Babon's reviews of books on Business Leadership and Business Strategy at Pinterest.
Profile Image for Robert Chapman.
501 reviews45 followers
May 26, 2013
This book was released after The OZ Principle and I found it to be a logical companion to The OZ Principle. The OZ Principle focused upon accountability - what it is, how it can practically work, and the benefits it will bring. This book deals with accountability as it relates to expectations in terms of setting them and how to deal with situations where they are not met.

I saw the same theme in this book as I did in The OZ Principle in that it challenged me to fist look inward before I looked outward. This is especially true when it comes to expectations, after all before they can be met they have to be set, and that starts with me.

This book is truly an excellent resource for understanding how to set expectations, manage them to success through motivation and inspection, and how to deal with situations where they aren't met.

I highly recommend this book even if you have not read The OZ Principle, however, if you have the time I would advise reading The OZ Principle first and the following with this book.
Profile Image for Mike Tobin.
24 reviews2 followers
March 16, 2014
This does a really great job of speaking about working with others to help obtain whatever mission you may have.
I used the principles in conjunction with my end of the year goal setting to establish Goals, Vision, and Key expectation to reach the mission. You may not look at this book (audio is the version I used) to work with Goals and Mission, but I think this is the missing link to things we have done with our team in the past.
You can have your Goals and Vision set out, but if you are leading a team, and you do not have a system to put it into action, you just have a piece of paper- it is the ACTION that makes things happen- this book does a good job sharing how to help teams of people take better action, especially if you find yourself in command of a TEAM. All good organizations have a good
A lot of information, so my intent is to listen this again about mid-year to see if I have missed anything in regards to Accountability and helping our team to work better with each other.
Good stuff!
Profile Image for Bree.
150 reviews6 followers
January 15, 2010
While a simple read, this book offers a process for holding folks accountable. Stemming from the fallout of the Hurricane Katrina administration through FEMA, the book recognizes that people need to become responsible for not only finding out what they need to do, but also for sharing expectations of themselves and of others to complete tasks/jobs. This book is more for a person in a leadership position within an organization, rather than a subordinate. The most telling part of the book for me was the assumption that culture can be changed. If a company's culture denies accountability/responsibility for getting things done, then you need to change the culture. The book doesn't address how that culture change gets buy-in, but does suggest additional books in the series to help continue on the path of accountability.
Profile Image for Arianna.
381 reviews62 followers
March 14, 2011
Okay, despite my initial grumbling, this actually turned out to be a pretty good book! I am impressed, particularly because I do NOT enjoy business in any way, shape, or form. The introduction was VERY dry and difficult to get through, but once you got into the actual meat of the book, the authors began to weave stories in amongst their advice, and it was really great. A lot of the stories I am sure will stick with me, and I learned some valuable non-management information, too! Such as that the tryptophan in turkey is NOT actually what makes you drowsy, and that CPR has been changed so that you no longer have to perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. So, overall, not a bad book! I wouldn't choose to read another management book again until I need to for a class , but I think that overall, this didn't kill me, and certainly made me stronger!
Profile Image for Rick.
250 reviews2 followers
October 25, 2016
Was really intrigued by the title particularly the "Positive, Principled Way" so dove into this right after reading the Oz principle by the same author. I didn't feel that some of the jargon was necessary but the concepts/principals themselves I thought were right on the money. As someone who manages a lot of young people extremely relevant for this day and age.
Profile Image for Michael Waller.
Author 1 book
September 12, 2014
The third book in the OZ series which provides more insight into how to improve the business through cultural modification. The three-book series offers some very good, even if common-sense, points that can be used by almost anyone.
Profile Image for Mark Manderson.
527 reviews27 followers
October 18, 2015
A lot of information packed into one book. Although it is a dry read that feels like a college textbook, they give clear concise case studies as examples to show how to ensure all employees know what the expectations are.
112 reviews
March 5, 2016
Dec 2011 - Setup reviews and establish accountability. Scheduled reviews tend to be too planned and do not accomplish the ultimate goal. Good read recgarding building in processes of accountability. Seems like it could have been accomplished in fewer pages.
214 reviews1 follower
April 13, 2016
When you explain to people first explain the Why? What? When? instead of just What? When? You engage their hearts and minds, not just their hands and feet. A decent book -- perhaps should have read the "OZ Principle" first
Profile Image for Shana Berry buchanan.
40 reviews3 followers
September 13, 2012

Details the reason behind telling your employees the 'why' behind your organization or project in order for them to take accountability and ownership ns open communication.
Profile Image for Amy Mueller.
41 reviews
November 19, 2013
Read this with the other managers at work. I wasn't going to include it in my list of books read this year, but I did read it, and did learn some things - so figured it 'counted'. :)
Profile Image for Mike Walters.
61 reviews3 followers
October 3, 2014
I liked the concepts that were presented and I have already taken "inspect what you expect" to heart. I just struggled to get into a good flow while reading this book.
Profile Image for Melissa.
90 reviews
July 5, 2015
dry read, same people that did oz principle. basic concepts, the culture of accountability chapter was the best...slow read.
91 reviews
June 4, 2015
I really enjoyed this book. Great advise and practical recommendations. This book should be studied and practiced.
Displaying 1 - 27 of 27 reviews

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