Smart Lemming Review: How Did that Happen by Roger Connors and Tom Smith

how-do-that-happen-bookcoverWhat it is: Roger Connors and Tom Smith’s How Did That Happen?: Holding People Accountable for Results the Positive, Principled Way

What it’s about: New strategies for holding people accountable while building morale.


The Good: Provides managers and workers with models, self-assessments, charts, and lists to create and maintain an accountability sequence to establish accountability expectations and managing unmet expectations.

The Bad: Initially mundane, but How Did That Happen quickly turns a corner, becoming compelling as you find yourself doing mental checks to see if you’ve properly set expectations with your workers to instill accountability.

Action Item: Managers should buy this book to learn how to establish expectations of accountability and how to manage unmet expectations. Knowledge workers should also buy this book to understand how they can become a high performer, using the accountability models, self-assessments, and lists from this book as they develop their skill set.

Beyond The Oz Principle and Journey to the Emerald City

Connors and Smith’s first two books are required management readings. Over the past twenty years, managers have learned some of the fundamentals of management in The Oz Principle and Journey to the Emerald City. The Oz Principleteaches steps to accountability that establishes the necessary foundation for organizations to build an accountable workforce. Journey to the Emerald Cityexplained the path organizations must take to create a culture of accountability. Like any good trilogy, How Did that Happen completes the accountability storyline by teaching managers how to hold people accountable for results. As new managers and workers come into organizations, getting results through accountability is a repeatable process, one that must be vigilantly assessed and reassessed to achieve results year after year.


Explaining The Accountability Sequence

In this book, Connor and Smith developed an easy to learn, but comprehensive model to explain what accountability is, why it may be lacking, how to create it, and how to manage it. How Did that Happen teaches “The Accountability Sequence.” It’s an ideal approach for organizations to create accountability for achieving results by holding others accountable in a positive, principled way. It teaches how to enable people to fulfill the expectations you have for them, while concurrently building a positive Accountability Connection. Below are the highlights of The Accountability Sequence:

  • How to apply the Accountability Sequence Model to day-to-day accountability interactions with others
  • How to use your Accountability Styles and hold others accountable in a positive way
  • How to establish expectations that people want to fulfill
  • How to manage unmet expectations and have the Accountability Conversation that leads to better, and more consistent results from the people on whom you depend
  • How to establish positive Accountability Connections with everyone in your Expectations Chain
  • How to improve your ability to hold others accountable in a way that motivates and produces results

How to Hold People Accountable for Results

How Did that Happen initially is bogged down in explaining why accountability maybe lacking your organization. Once you turn this corner, Connor and Smith outline their framework in two parts: The Outer Ring of establishing expectations and The Inner Ring of The Accountability Conversation to manage unmet expectations. The Outer Ringer of this framework explains how to establish expectations using four management techniques:

  • Form expectations: Creating framable, obtainable, repeatable, and measurable expectations of your workforce
  • Communicate expectations: Communicating key expectations with clarity, allowing people to understand what is expected and why it’s important for them to follow through and deliver results
  • Align expectations: Creating and maintaining alignment around those expectations with everyone who contributes to the expectations
  • Inspect expectations: Assessing the condition of how closely key expectations are being fulfilled, ensuring continued alignment, providing support, reinforcing progress, and promoting learning to deliver results

Connor and Smith also provide invaluable assessments to assist managers during this phase of accountability with the following tools:

  • 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 to Manage Unmet Expectations

Understanding that managing unmet expectations is most likely the hardest part of managing others, Connor and Smith explain The Accountability Conversation. What do you do when a worker isn’t aligned to company or department expectations? How do you deal with a worker’s competency problem?

The Inner Ring of The Accountability Sequence explains how to have the accountability conversation by using four solutions: training, accountability, culture, and motivation. The authors effectively provide you with a road map on avoiding conversation and cause killers, identifying the telltale measures of motivation, understanding the characteristics of accountability attitudes, and learning the triggers that move you from the Outer Ring to the Inner Ring. Connor and Smith provide the following additional assessment tools for managing unmet expectations:

  • How Strong is Your Cause?
  • How conscious Am I? Self-Test
  • Which Way Does Accountability Flow in Your Organization
  • Culture Questions
  • Organizational Integrity Assessments


Connors and Smith have written another must-read business book that explains what accountability is, why it may be lacking, how to create it, and how to manage it. They provide invaluable models to explain how to establish and manage met and unmet expectations. As if this wasn’t enough, they also provide self-assessment tools to help you determine your environment or situation, so you know what your next steps should be in managing expectations. If you’re new to Connors and Smith’s books, after reading How Did that Happen, you’ll feel like you just came in to the last part of a trilogy, leaving you with a compulsion to learn what happened in parts one and two. Before you know it, you’ll be reading The Oz Principle and Journey to the Emerald City.

teamconnorsAbout Roger Connors and Tom Smith

Roger Connors and Thomas Smith founded Partners In Leadership, Inc. in 1989. The company has grown to become the premier provider of Accountability Training® Services around the world.  They are the bestselling authors of the book, The Oz Principle: Getting Results Through Individual And Organizational Accountability. According to their publisher, this book is in the top 5 bestselling business books in the ‘Leadership’ and ‘Performance’ categories, year after year, since 1994. It’s become a classic and is in the top 30 bestselling business books in the last 15 years.

Tom Smith

Connors and Smith also published the bestselling book, Journey To The Emerald City: Achieve A Competitive Edge By Creating A Culture Of Accountability. It focuses on organizational improvement and human performance technology methods and practices to accelerate culture change, where people, at all levels of the organization, think and act in the manner necessary to achieve organizational results.

With over 700 clients in 56 countries, Connor and Smith’s company have assisted thousands of companies and people from executives to the front line worker in understanding how to create greater accountability for results in their organizations and on their teams.

Additional Resources

  • Books:The Oz Principle: Getting Results through Individual and Organizational Accountability
    /em>and Journey to the Emerald City
  • Achieving Results through Greater Accountability: Download a complimentary white paper on creating a Culture of Accountability. Click here
  • Accountability Assessments: These resources give you the tools you need to sell the virtues of creating a culture of accountability internally. Click here
  • Executive Video References: The best way to understand the value of accountability training is to hear from the people and organizations that have experienced its impact. Click here
  • Articles: These articles are here to give you the information you need to make an informed decision about Partners In Leadership. Click here
  • Webinar Recordings: Managers and leaders who take accountability for specific results deliver specific results. Join Partners In Leadership, as we discuss the keys to creating an accountable workforce in an engaging, and interactive webinar. Click here
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