How did that happen?


Video Overview

Tom Smith, Co-Founder, Bestselling Author of How Did That Happen?, speaks about their bestselling book (view Tom’s bio). This book shows you how to hold others accountable for delivering on expectations in a positive, principled way that produces results.

Holding People Accountable For Results The Positive, Principled Way


# 1 Leadership Book – The New York Times

# 1 Leadership Book – Wall Street Journal

# 1 Leadership Book – USA Today

# 1 Leadership Book – Publisher’s Weekly

Named the Best of 2009 Series

Over the past two decades Partners In Leadership has worked with clients’ intent on meeting the high expectations of their marketplace, shareholders, customers, and all the other stakeholders. As they have helped companies of all types and sizes cash in on the organizational currency of accountability, they have become convinced that there are two very distinct sides to the accountability coin: one side of the coin is taking accountability yourself, and the flipside is holding other people accountable.

In this New York Times Bestseller, How Did That Happen? the authors examine the other side of the accountability coin: holding people accountable for results in a way that conquers all the damaging behaviors that permeate so many organizations today.


How Did That Happen? shows you how to hold others accountable for delivering on expectations in a positive, principled way that produces results. Never again will your attempts to hold people accountable backfire in a way that actually hurts your objective. Never again will you feel at a loss, wondering what else you can do to get others to deliver on expectations. Never again will you be surprised at the outcome, wondering, “How Did That Happen?” in spite of all your very best efforts. By following the steps in what they call the Accountability Sequence,® you will learn how to avoid the unpleasant “surprises” that plague almost every project and discover the key to getting things done through others.

Over the last twenty years, Partners In Leadership has accumulated a library full of stories and case studies that illustrate how accountability, correctly understood and applied, produces results for companies all over the world. The stories you will read in this book have drawn heavily upon their own practical and real-life experiences with clients, illustrating both successful and failed attempts to hold people accountable.


Within minutes of finishing each chapter, you will be able to apply a particular principle or practice to your work. The Book is that practical, essential, and useful. Holding people accountable for results may be an essential philosophy for anyone intent on succeeding in today’s complex and fast-changing business climate, but that philosophy won’t make much of a difference if you don’t have a concrete, step-by-step approach you can use to ensure your success.


How Did That Happen? provides a variety of tools that will better enable you to get results through others. Throughout the book you will find a rich assortment of “How to” approaches and methods that show you exactly what you can do to implement each step of the Outer Ring® and Inner Ring® successfully. Every step of the way we encourage you to practice what you are learning with a variety of useful devices: graphic models, self-tests, checklists, tips, and reality checks including:

  • Accountability Style Self-Assessment
  • Clues to Assessing How Well You Form Expectations
  • The Deliberate Leader Self-Test
  • The Keeping-Up Quiz
  • “How Often I get Surprised”
  • Am I a Chaser?
  • How Strong is Your Cause?
  • How conscious Am I? Self-Test
  • Which Way Does Accountability Flow in Your Organization
  • Culture Questions
  • Organizational Integrity Assessments

Applying the skills presented in the Accountability Sequence model, comprised of both the Outer Ring and Inner Ring, will help you hold all the people you work with more accountable for what you need them to do, right here and right now. If you make accountability your standard operating procedure in your company and, if you do it the right way, they may not know precisely how you did it, but they will know that something has changed: they may enjoy a relationship that runs more smoothly and more efficiently, they may sense a focus that did not exist before, and they may grow ever more willing and able to deliver the results you expect. At the end of the day, you will eliminate the surprises that come with bad news and missed results, and you will no longer find yourself shaking your head in frustration, wondering "How did that happen?".


Some organizations attempt to use book clubs or book reading assignments as the sole means for training people throughout the organization in the principles of greater accountability. Our books are certainly a good starting place, but there are some limitations to relying solely on the books to train your organization or team.

Aside from all the apparent Intellectual Property issues that complicate using the books to train your people, it is worth noting that approximately 75% of the proprietary Oz Principle Accountability Training® content is not found in our books. Our books are meant to be an overview of the Accountability Training principles, as opposed to serving as a script for training teams and organizations. The Accountability Training helps you apply the content in the books as a solution for your business needs. If speed is important to your organization, then you will appreciate knowing that the training will accelerate adoption, focus integration and provide best practices on how to implement the Accountability Training as an enterprise-wide solution.


In a letter to Partner In Leadership’s leadership, Ed Vanyo, General Manager, Can Operations Nestlé Purina PetCare Company, recounts the amazing success he had in implementing the Partners In Leadership Self Track Training in a new product launch:

Dear Roger and Tom,

I happened to stumble upon The Oz Principle browsing a bookstore with my wife, as we have been known to spend many a Sunday afternoon. Being a “Wizard of Oz” fan, the title drew my attention away from the numerous other books espousing how-to fix this or that management problem. The accountability subtitle peaked my interest even more. This was an area that my team at work had been discussing and knew we needed help with.

Reading the book, I enjoyed the parallel drawn with the Oz characters. More importantly, you provided great clarity with the principles of proactive accountability and their application. The simplicity of the process belies the strength of the message. I immediately knew that we would benefit from exposure to The Oz Principle. Sometimes a message is so important and powerful that one must internalize it completely and become its disciple. This is what happened to me with The Oz Principle. I felt that to get the message to my team and have them truly understand my passion for its application I would need to personally facilitate the training sessions.

I have recently completed my first training session as facilitator and I wanted to share my thoughts with you.

The participants were my direct reports and their reports (my skip-level reports) from one factory.

The training started with a review of the corporation’s “Blueprint for Success” and our factory results. We then proceeded to the See It, Own It, Solve It, and Do It to the results we needed to deliver in the future. The 16-element review was very enlightening as it demonstrated the effect a leadership team has on the organization. The most significant areas for organizational improvement were the areas identified as management team weaknesses! This shows that “I” is truly the operative word in “What else can I do to achieve the result?”

We have taken a modified approach to action planning for implementing the improvements identified. Each participant was required to prepare their individual action plan, but not at the training. I wanted them to spend quality time reviewing the key learnings. The action items identi?ed will be incorporated into their formal performance review process.

To drive the See It step (which appears to be the most difficult for the group to align with) we have begun several tasks.

I have just completed a 360 feedback review on leadership and I can honestly say it is the ?rst time I have been excited to get the feedback and start to work on improvement. To demonstrate my commitment to the program, I presented the results to the team, thanked them for the feedback, and committed to improving in two speci?c areas.

The team identi?ed employee satisfaction as a key result area and felt it was the area needing the most improvement. We therefore conducted a factory-wide survey of all employees to identify employee attitudes and opinions about the workplace and the management team. Utilizing these results and narrowing our efforts to focus on employee safety, we have started employee focus groups to develop actions that we should start doing, stop doing and continue doing in safety. We will then build on our successes in this area to move The Oz Principle into all the key result areas of the factory.

We are continuing into the new year utilizing (the Culture Track Training) to define the culture in the factory as we would like it to be. It is absolutely amazing to see the number of “Mixed messages” that are sent by the management team when the process is not explicitly managed. We all need to remember that we are on stage when we leave our offices and head for the factory floor. Personally, the process has allowed me to revisit my own impact on the culture drivers. I can honestly say that The Oz Principle will become a part of our process and not just the next “Program of the month”.

Thanks for a refreshing view of proactive accountability. The very best,

Ed Vanyo General Manager, Can Operations Nestlé Purina PetCare Company

Of course, there is a caution: If you implement accountability the wrong way, you will experience the Accountability Paradox; that is, the harder you try to create accountability, the less accountable people actually become. The Accountability Training will help you implement accountability the right way by incorporating the best practices that have been developed over two decades of successful application.

The principles of accountability that we present in our books are largely common sense. The Partners In Leadership training turns that common sense into common practice. The issue is not so much what is in the books, but what is in the hearts and minds of the people on your team and in your organization. The training brings the content in the books to life for people at every level of the organization and creates a powerful level of collective engagement and ownership for achieving key organizational results that is essential to success.

We encourage our clients to have everyone in the organization read our books--the grounding and understanding that comes with the personal investment that reading represents is invaluable. However, reading alone is not enough to accelerate the shift to a Culture of Accountability.® That requires a higher level for collective engagement that is created with the Accountability Training workshops.


“How Did That Happen? addresses the missing piece of the equation for improved results and profitability…Accountability is the cornerstone of any successful culture and continues to be for ours.”

Paul J. Byrne, President, Precor

“This is the right approach for getting results in today’s global environment.”

Gregory J. Newell, Former U.S. Ambassador and Assistant Secretary of State

“Creating greater accountability in a way that captures people’s hearts and minds is harder than it looks…. How Did That Happen? delivers specific and practical advice to do just that.”

Ginger Graham, Former CEO Amylin Pharmaceuticals Inc.

“How Did That Happen? peels back the onion on achieving sustained accountability”

Jeff Brundage, Senior Vice President of Human Resources American Airlines

“Congratulations on another practical and enjoyable book. A great next step in the authors’ series on accountability which has been instrumental to our success.”

Brad Mason, Group President, North America, Orthofix, NV

“How Did That Happen? provides a powerful road map to make accountability happen in your organization.”

Clinton A. Lewis, Jr., President, US Operations Pfizer Animal Health, Pfizer, Inc

“Connors and Smith have masterfully integrated relevant, factual stories with sound insights that leave lasting imprints of practical advice….”

David J. Wunderli, President, OGIO International Inc.

“Elegant in its simplicity, Connors and Smith use easy to understand language that presents a systematic, repeatable and pragmatic process to bring greater accountability and positive results to the individual, team and company.”

Allen J. Karlin, Ph.D., Organization Development & Talent Management-Americas, AMDOCS

“…Within the first 30 pages, I realized what has been missing on our journey. This book will help us continue to create and embrace a Culture of Accountability.”

Leon J. Kaplan, President & CEO, ABCO, Inc.

“This book is a natural and valuable sequel to The Oz Principle …Thank you Roger and Tom for your powerful, thoughtful and straight forward approach to this complex subject of how to develop a Culture of Accountability….your tools have made the journey fun!”

Craig L. Hendrickson, President & CEO, Overlake Hospital Medical Center

“A compelling and insightful way … for obtaining results. A must follow, sensible and repeatable way to build morale and get results.”

Jean Leger, Jr., Vice President Operations, OGE Energy Corp.

“…managing the Outer Ring and the Inner Ring will provide critical guidance for a successful journey towards accountable behavior.”

David M. Donald, Manager, Operations, Baroid Industrial Drilling Products

“How Did That Happen? offers another provocative segment in Connors and Smith’s series on holding people accountable for results..”

Richard Dreiman, President and CEO, Chemonics International Inc.

“…creates a set of tools that enable me to … avoid many of the time trodden pitfalls of other management techniques prevalent in my past practices. Thanks Roger and Tom for another outstanding management guidebook.”

Harold A. Blomquist, HAB Consulting Services, Chairman, President, Chief Executive Officer (retired), Simtek Corp.

“How Did That Happen? gives leaders the much-needed ‘accountability reality check’… so necessary in this time of turbulent change and economic uncertainty…”

Jim McNeil, Chief Operating Officer, BAI

“How Did That Happen could not be more timely. I was hooked after the first paragraph and couldn’t put it down’but had to go back to being accountable for my job!”

Susan Levine, Executive Director, Hospice of The Valley

“Roger and Tom’s accountability definition transformed my organization. How Did That Happen? is a practical, step-by-step process that is invaluable in ensuring accountability and desired results within an organization.”

Paul Everett, Vice President Customer Service, HR/Payroll, Ceridian

“True to form, another good, practical book for those of us interested in driving the accountability agenda into the workplace…several useful tools, important strategies and cultural considerations that will increase ownership and accountable behavior.”

John P. McGrath, Ph.D., Corporate Vice President, Quality, Edwards Lifesciences LLC

“It is the best practical leadership work I have ever come across in my career.”

Stuart J. FitzGibbon, Refinery Manager American Sugar Refining, Inc.

“How Did That Happen? offers a tool for holding others accountable in a way that allows them to be successful and still sleep at night… A must read for any leader who wants to achieve success in a sustainable way.”

Major Daniel Thompson, Officer in Charge, EMT, 325th Combat Support Hospital, United States Army

“the content and the methodology of How Did That Happen? are aligned with delivering sustained long term results….As an educator, I find this book to be a significant addition to my library.”

Steven Marshall, Vice President, Organizational Development, Rexall PharmaPlus

“… a perfectly timed tool for everyone faced with the challenge of holding others accountable for results. Using interesting stories that will enhance your learning, the authors provide a solution for achieving results that will work in today’s challenging business environment. Put How Did that Happen? at the top of your reading list!”

Nick Porter, Executive Vice President, Institutional Advancement & Corporate Relations, Moffitt Cancer Center

“An excellent addition to the accountability series! How Did That Happen? truly delivers and is full of practical tools, skills and stories that will enable you to elevate accountability in any size organization. Well done!”

Michael J. Capaldi, Associate Vice President, Sales Training & Leadership Development, Sanofi-Aventis

“How Did That Happen? does an artful job of turning the complex task of managing people to achieve results into simple concepts and models that anyone can follow–best of all, the approach is positive and principled.”

Danny P. Harris, Senior Vice President & Chief Operating Officer, OGE Energy Corp.

“An excellent resource for any manager working to build an ‘ACCOUNTABLE’ organization…this book contains valuable insight into just how to do this!”

Scot R. Benson, vice president & general manager, MacDermid Printing Solutions

“Having read Connors and Smith’s books, attended their workshops, and put into practice their tools and techniques, I can attest to the fact that what they are saying really works.”

Joe Hohner, Senior Vice President, Chief of Staff and Chief Information Officer, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan

“How Did That Happen? …is especially timely and speaks to the important challenges and opportunities facing every business today. It is an indispensible part of every leader’s supervisory toolbox.”

Emmett Murphy, Author of the NY Times Business Bestseller, Leadership IQ