How Did That Happen? by Roger Connors and Tom Smith

Books2Wealth Book of the Month for April 2013 

Title and Author:  How Did That Happen by Roger Connors and Tom Smith

Synopsis of Content:

The subtitle of this book, Holding People Accountable for Results the Positive, Principled Way, is a good description of the book’s purpose. The book starts with questions about How Did That Happen – first focusing on the financial crisis which began in 2007. Financial markets melted down, billions of dollars were lost, banks faced bankruptcy and many other businesses were in trouble. Using this as a starting place the authors ask the frequently heard question, how did that happen, and then discuss how to avoid the need for that question by using proper accountability systems.

The authors have devised a graphic presentation of their work consisting of two concentric rings: an inner ring and an outer ring. These rings define what they call the accountability sequence.

The outer ring includes the basis for establishing expectations, a foundation to insuring accountability. The outer ring includes a focus on Form, Communication, Alignment, and Inspection. They explain in great detail how these functions should be used to create clear expectations for employees and others.

Inside the outer ring is the inner ring which focuses on the four solutions: motivation, training, culture and accountability.

Together these functions create clear expectations and then provide the basis for accountability for the execution of those expectations. They also stress the importance of doing this work in a positive principled way.

The book is a very thorough examination of what goes wrong with accountability and why. These reasons include a failure to clearly define expectations, properly communicate them, provide proper positive and principled feedback, and holding everyone from the top to the bottom of an organization accountable for following through. The authors use both a detailed theoretical explanation as well as a rich palette of examples of what can go right and wrong depending on how you implement these solutions.


Anyone who works in any organization where people’s performance is critical to success can benefit from this book. It is equally applicable in business, nonprofits, and government. It provides a framework for how to clearly establish a foundation for accountability and making it work. It will prove particularly valuable to those in management and control of an organization but elements of it would be useful to anyone working with others where expectations and accountability are important. It is difficult to imagine any organization where these things are not critical.

Readability/Writing Quality:  

The book is well organized and well written. It is moderately difficult and builds on a sequence of concepts that require some study and review.

Notes on Author:

The authors are well established advisors and consultants who have written other best seller business books including The Oz Principle and Journey to the Emerald City. Their business is Partners in Leadership, Inc.

Related Website:

Three Great Ideas You Can Use:

  1. It is most useful to assume that people are trying to do the right thing. Searching for flaws in the system which establishes expectations is more productive then finding fault.
  1. It is critical to clearly define and communicate expectations to insure accountability.
  1. It is equally critical to manage expectations and focus attention on that process throughout any business operation.

Publication Information:  

Title and Author: How Did That Happen by Roger Connors and Tom Smith

Copyright holder: 2009 by Roger Connors and Tom Smith

Publisher: Penguin Group

Get the book here:

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.