Changing Organizational Culture By Harnessing The Oz Principle

Last Updated: October 2, 2023 | by Paul Harstrom

The Oz Principle is a widely recognized concept introduced in the book of the same name written by Roger Connors, Tom Smith, and Craig Hickman. It presents a robust framework for achieving accountability and driving positive change within organizations. 

The Oz Principle Book Cover: A book cover for "The Oz Principle" might feature a visually striking design that incorporates elements from the famous "Wizard of Oz" story, as the book draws inspiration from the classic tale.

It is inspired by the famous Hollywood classic, The Wizard of Oz, in which L. Frank Baum Captivate the audience with his timeless plot, striking a chord by portraying a journey towards self-awareness and personal power. 

The characters discover that they possess the ability to achieve their goals within themselves. Instead of relying on external forces, they realize their potential.

This relatable theme resonates as we all navigate a similar path from ignorance to knowledge, fear to courage, and victimization to accountability

However, many fail to grasp the story’s valuable lesson which states that we mustn’t remain stuck or blame others for our circumstances. In today’s complex world, the temptation to play the victim poses a real crisis as the author suggests.

By understanding and applying the Principles mentioned in The Oz Principle, leaders and employees can clear the path of personal and organizational accountability, fostering a culture that promotes growth, engagement, and achievement.

This article will discuss The Oz Principle, its transformative power, and practical strategies for driving cultural change.

Key Takeaways:

  • Changing organizational culture is crucial for the success and sustainability of any business.
  • The Oz Principle emphasizes creating a culture of accountability and ownership.
  • Barriers to change in organizational culture include resistance from employees, lack of leadership support, and fear of the unknown.
  • Successful companies prioritize employee happiness and empowerment, leading to significant growth and success.

Changing the Culture for Business Growth:

The phrase “changing the culture” refers to the process of transforming the shared beliefs, values, attitudes, behaviors, and practices that define an organization or society. 

The Oz Principle Leadership Competency - A visual representation of the leadership competency associated with 'The Oz Principle.' The image portrays key elements of accountability, transparency, and leadership, symbolizing the principles outlined in the book

From a business perspective, Cultural Change involves shifting the overall mindset, attitudes, and ways of working to align with new goals, strategies, and desired outcomes. The capability to expedite cultural change is vital for leaders aiming to maintain their organization’s competitiveness and focus.

Change the Culture, Change the Game, which is based on a methodology employed by some of the most recognized and successful businesses in the world, is the go-to manual for developing such leadership skills. 

The authors, Roger Connors and Tom Smith offer a refreshingly straightforward methodology that promotes quick, results-driven cultural change by drawing on more than 20 years of their experience, helping customers create a culture of accountability.

Changing the culture for business growth often arises from the need to adapt to:

  • Evolving market conditions
  • Improve performance
  • Enhance employee engagement 
  • Foster innovation or 
  • Address issues within the organization 

It requires a comprehensive and holistic approach that encompasses various aspects of the company, including:

  • Leadership
  • Communication
  • Processes & 
  • Employee behaviors

Applying The Oz Principle to Cultural Change: 

The Oz Principle provides a powerful framework for driving cultural change within organizations. By embracing its principles of accountability and ownership, leaders can effectively navigate the journey of cultural transformation. 

Here’s how the Oz Principle can be applied in the context of cultural change:

Establishing a Clear Vision for Cultural Change:

A clear vision serves as a guiding beacon for cultural change, providing employees with a compelling destination to strive for. By clearly articulating the desired culture and aligning it with the organization’s goals, leaders can direct employees toward a common purpose.

In practice, a business example of cultural change through a clear vision can be seen in the transformation of a traditional hierarchical organization into an agile and collaborative one.

Applying the Oz Principle, the leaders emphasize accountability by communicating the vision and its underlying principles to employees. They encourage individuals to take personal responsibility for embracing the desired culture and aligning their actions with the vision. 

Lead by Example:

Recognizing the role of leadership in driving Cultural Transformation through the Oz Principle. Leaders must demonstrate accountability and ownership by embodying the desired cultural behaviors. 

The Oz Principle Cultural Shift - An abstract representation of a cultural shift inspired by 'The Oz Principle.' The image conveys transformation, accountability, and transparency, reflecting the principles and ideas explored in the book.

Leaders that focus on results describe their responsibilities in terms of doable actions. By clearly stating their goals, they enable others to understand and value their agendas. 

Leaders who are aware of who they are and what they are doing have the respect of their followers. Such leaders are straightforward, focused, and consistent, inspiring others to have faith in them.

Foster Open Communication:

Open communication is a vital component in driving cultural change within organizations. Combined with the Oz Principle principles, it becomes a powerful catalyst for transformation.

Encourage open dialogue and transparency throughout the organization. Create platforms for employees to share their ideas, concerns, and suggestions related to cultural change

Establish channels for two-way communication, such as regular team meetings, town hall sessions, suggestion boxes, or digital platforms, to facilitate open discussions.

Leaders and managers should actively listen to employees’ perspectives and feedback regarding the existing culture and desired changes.

Employee Empowerment:

The Oz Principle emphasizes personal accountability, where individuals take ownership of their actions and results. When applied to employee empowerment, it encourages employees to take responsibility for their work, decisions, and professional development. 

This sense of accountability fosters a culture of ownership and encourages employees to proactively contribute to the organization’s success. 

Hence, providing the necessary resources, tools, and training to empower employees drives significant cultural change. As a result, celebrate successes and acknowledge those who embody the desired cultural behaviors.

Embracing Accountability and Ownership:

The Oz Principle introduces the “See It, Own It, Solve It, Do It” methodology as a practical way to navigate accountability. This approach involves: 

  • Actively observing and acknowledging problems 
  • Taking ownership of finding solutions
  • Implementing those solutions, and following through with actions

At its core, the Oz Principle emphasizes the importance of taking personal responsibility for one’s actions, decisions, and outcomes. It encourages individuals to move away from a victim mindset and adopt an accountable approach.

Overcoming Challenges in Cultural Change:

Cultural change within a company can face several challenges, but with the right strategies and approaches, these challenges can be overcome. One common challenge in cultural change is resistance from employees who are accustomed to the existing culture and processes.

By implementing the following strategies, any company can gradually overcome such resistance:

  • Transparent Communication
  • Training and Development
  • Consistent Role Modeling
  • Encourage Innovation

Continuous Measurement and Improvement:

By monitoring progress and making necessary adjustments, companies can ensure that the cultural transformation stays on track. 

The Oz Principle Accountability - An illustration capturing the essence of accountability as inspired by 'The Oz Principle.' The image symbolizes responsibility, transparency, and positive change, aligning with the core concepts of the book.

To enable continuous measurement and improvement in cultural change, organizations can establish key performance indicators (KPIs) aligned with the desired cultural traits. These KPIs can include:

  • Employee satisfaction
  • Collaboration levels
  • Innovation rates
  • Customer feedback

Regular surveys, feedback sessions, and data analysis can provide insights into the current state of the culture and identify areas for improvement. 

With this information, companies can develop action plans to implement targeted initiatives and track the impact of these efforts. As a result, ensuring that cultural transformation remains a dynamic process.

Barriers To Change In Organizational Culture:

Changing organizational culture is not without its challenges. Barriers to change in organizational culture can include:

  • Resistance from employees
  • Lack of leadership support
  • Fear of the unknown

One of the most common barriers is resistance from employees. People naturally resist change, significantly when it disrupts their established routines and ways of doing things. 

It is essential to address their concerns and fears and communicate the benefits of the cultural change to gain their buy-in and support.

Another barrier is the lack of leadership commitment and alignment. Without top executives’ support and active involvement, any attempt to change the organizational culture is likely to fail. 

Leaders must set an example and consistently reinforce the desired behaviors and values. Additionally, a lack of resources, such as time, budget, and expertise, can impede the progress of cultural change initiatives. 

It is crucial to allocate the necessary resources and ensure that the right people with the right skills are involved.

Moreover, the existing organizational structure and processes can act as barriers to cultural change. Hierarchical structures and rigid procedures may hinder the adoption of new behaviors and ways of working. 

Hence It is crucial to assess and, if necessary, modify the structure and processes to align with the desired culture.

Overcoming these barriers requires patience, perseverance, and a willingness to adapt and evolve as necessary.

The importance of organizational culture cannot be underestimated. It sets the tone for how employees interact with one another, how decisions are made, and how work is done. 

A positive and strong culture can attract top talent, increase employee engagement and productivity, and ultimately drive business growth.

Types Of Organizational Culture:

When exploring the different types of organizational culture, you’ll find that they can significantly impact your organization’s overall functioning and success. 

Understanding these different types can help you assess your current culture and determine if any changes are needed to align with your goals and objectives.

There are several types of organizational culture. One common type is the hierarchical culture, where a transparent chain of command and decision-making power is concentrated at the top. 

This type of culture can be effective in organizations where there is a need for strong leadership and control.

Another type is the clan culture, which emphasizes collaboration, teamwork, and a family-like atmosphere. In this culture, employees are encouraged to work together and build strong relationships, fostering a sense of loyalty and commitment.

The market culture, on the other hand, is focused on competition and achieving results. Goals, targets, and performance metrics often drive organizations with this type of culture. They value efficiency and effectiveness.

Lastly, the adhocracy culture is characterized by the following:

  • Innovation
  • Flexibility
  • Adaptability

Organizations with this type of culture thrive in dynamic environments where change is frequent, and creativity is valued.

Now that you have a better understanding of the different types of organizational culture, you can see why there is a need for organizational culture change. 

As organizations evolve and face new challenges, their culture must adapt to remain relevant and competitive. 

In the next section, we will explore why organizations may need to change their culture.

Why is there a need for organizational culture change?

As a leader or a member of an organization, it is crucial to recognize the need for culture change to stay competitive and achieve long-term success.

One of the primary reasons for organizational culture change is the need to align the culture with the organization’s strategic goals. As businesses evolve and adapt to new market dynamics, their goals may shift, requiring a corresponding organizational culture change. 

This alignment ensures that everyone in the organization is working towards the same objectives, fostering a sense of unity and purpose.

Organizational culture change is often necessary to attract and retain top talent. In a competitive job market, employees seek organizations offering a positive and inclusive work environment. 

Organizations can attract and retain high-performing individuals by creating a culture that values diversity, promotes work-life balance, and encourages employee development.

Let’s explore some success stories and examples of organizations that have successfully changed their cultures to achieve outstanding results.

Success Stories and Examples For Cultural Change: 

Here are a few real-world examples of organizations that have successfully changed their culture and achieved cultural transformation using The Oz Principles:


Zappos, an online shoe and clothing retailer, is known for its strong company culture based on core values such as delivering WOW through service and embracing change. 

Explore how Zappos has cultivated a high-performance culture and learn valuable insights for implementing it in your organization.

The company implemented the Oz Principle by fostering a culture of accountability and empowerment. Employees were encouraged to take ownership of customer satisfaction and were given the freedom to make decisions without excessive hierarchy. 

As a result, Zappos achieved high customer loyalty, employee engagement, and rapid growth, leading to its acquisition by

Southwest Airlines: 

Southwest Airlines is renowned for its unique culture that emphasizes employee engagement, teamwork, and a fun-loving environment.

The airline applied the principles of the Oz Principle by focusing on accountability and encouraging employees at all levels to take responsibility for their actions and outcomes. 

Southwest Airlines High Performance Culture

This culture of accountability led to exceptional customer service, operational efficiency, and profitability, making Southwest Airlines one of the most successful airlines globally.


Netflix, a leading streaming entertainment company, changed its culture by embracing Oz Principle’s principles of accountability and clear expectations. 

Netflix High Performance Culture

The company moved away from traditional performance reviews and annual evaluations and adopted a culture that prioritized continuous feedback, open communication, and individual ownership. 

This cultural shift empowered employees to take responsibility for their personal growth and development, leading to innovation, agility, and the ability to adapt to rapidly changing market dynamics.

Impact of Culture Shift on Small Businesses and Workplace:

How cultural shifts translate to the target audience or your customers, is one of the most important parts of how they affect a company’s performance. It makes sense that you would want to know what your target audience thinks of your company’s culture. 

When you conduct business with a firm that strives to provide the finest experience, it is obvious to you as the consumer. Because it is a component of these organizations’ identities, you will constantly feel excitement and enthusiasm with them. Click here to learn how Cultural shift provides momentum to your organization’s needs.

These experiences come from a company culture that values its customers and knows what is most important. We need to examine the cultural shifts that are now being managed because culture always forges its route through the many elements of a company, such as its practices and regulations. 

Any slight modifications you make will be quickly undone by the stronger cultural rituals that continue to exist. While this does not preclude you from changing the culture, the process is only going to be fruitful if there are interruptions in the way things are usually done. 

It would be best if you made adjustments to every aspect of your business. You can’t just do one thing; you need to plan numerous actions that will help break up the monotony and make room for new niches to emerge.

Employees frequently exhibit a greater awareness of the organization’s strategic priorities and the accompanying management values that support these goals in high-performance cultures.

Shifting Your Entire Organization Above The Line: 

A delicate line separates success and failure, exceptional companies and ordinary ones. Below this line, excuses prevail, blame is placed on others, confusion reigns, and a sense of helplessness takes hold of you.

However, above this line, a different reality emerges—a reality characterized by ownership, commitment, problem-solving, and resolute action. Winners reside Above The Line, fueled by dedication and hard work.

Individuals and organizations often find themselves Below The Line when they consciously or unconsciously avoid taking accountability for their actions and the outcomes they produce. 

Trapped in a cycle of victimhood and blame, they gradually lose their drive and determination, eventually feeling completely powerless.

Only by shifting their mindset and moving Above The Line, embracing the steps to accountability, can they regain their power and become agents of change, provoking cultural growth.

In the journey toward creating a culture of success, individuals and organizations must recognize the power of accountability and its transformative impact. 

With a collective commitment to climbing Above The Line, individuals and organizations can create a culture that propels them toward greatness and achieves remarkable results.


The transformative potential of applying the Oz Principle to change organizational culture cannot be underestimated. The Oz Principle provides a framework for individuals and teams to take responsibility for their actions, overcome challenges, and continuously improve. 

Applying this principle offers organizations a pathway to Cultural Transformation, creating an environment where individuals thrive, teams excel, and the organization achieves remarkable results. 

How do you think changing organizational culture impacts overall success? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below!

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How Long Does It Take for an Organization to Change Its Culture Successfully?

Cultural change is a slow and continuous process that typically takes several years for a complete transition. You must invest in training, communication, and leadership development to make lasting changes.

What Are Some Potential Risks or Negative Consequences of Attempting to Change Organizational Culture?

Attempting to change organizational culture can have potential risks and negative consequences. It may lead to resistance, confusion, and a decrease in productivity.

It’s essential to plan and communicate to mitigate these challenges carefully.

How Can Leaders Effectively Communicate the Need for Cultural Change to Their Employees?

To effectively communicate the need for cultural change to your employees, you should clearly explain its reasons and how it aligns with the organization’s goals.

Engage them in the process and provide ongoing support and feedback.

What are some factors that cause Resistant to Cultural Change?

The factors that cause resistance to cultural change include long-standing traditions, rigid hierarchies, or resistance to new ideas. Understanding these barriers is critical to navigating change successfully.

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