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QBQ! The Question Behind the Question: Practicing Personal Accountability at Work and in Life [Hardcover]

John G. Miller
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Sept. 13 2004
The lack of personal accountability is a problem that has resulted in an epidemic of blame, victim thinking, complaining, and procrastination. No organization—or individual—can successfully compete in the marketplace, achieve goals and objectives, provide outstanding service, engage in exceptional teamwork, or develop people without personal accountability.  

John G. Miller believes that the troubles that plague organizations cannot be solved by pointing fingers and blaming others. Rather, the real solutions are found when each of us recognizes the power of personal accountability. In QBQ! The Question Behind the Question®, Miller explains how negative, ill-focused questions like “Why do we have to go through all this change?” and “Who dropped the ball?” represent a lack of personal accountability. Conversely, when we ask better questions—QBQs—such as “What can I do to contribute?” or “How can I help solve the problem?” our lives and our organizations are transformed.

This remarkable and timely book provides a practical method for putting personal accountability into daily actions, with astonishing results: problems are solved, internal barriers come down, service improves, teams thrive, and people adapt to change more quickly. QBQ! is an invaluable resource for anyone seeking to learn, grow, and change. Using this tool, each of us can add tremendous worth to our organizations and to our lives by eliminating blame, victim-thinking, and procrastination.
QBQ! was written more than a decade ago and has helped countless readers practice personal accountability at work and at home. This version features a new foreword, revisions and new material throughout, and a section of  FAQs that the author has received over the years.

Frequently Bought Together

QBQ! The Question Behind the Question: Practicing Personal Accountability at Work and in Life + Flipping the Switch...: Unleash the Power of Personal Accountability Using the QBQ! + Parenting the QBQ Way, Expanded Edition: How to be an Outstanding Parent and Raise Great Kids Using the Power of Personal Accountability
Price For All Three: CDN$ 35.52

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Product Details

Product Description

From Amazon

QBQ! by John G. Miller is a motivational primer aimed at purging the "blame, complaining, and procrastination" from the workplace. Miller believes that one of the hallmarks of today's business culture is a lack of personal accountability; he prescribes the cure in this series of short stories and personal observations drawn from his years of experience running his organizational development firm. His main point is that positive change begins with individuals changing themselves: "Instead of asking, 'When will others walk their talk?' let's walk our talk first." The result is choppy (39 chapters in 115 pages), and at times Miller's advice boils down to truism and cliché. Nevertheless, managers whose workplaces demand remedial, straightforward advice should find a useful tool here. --Harry C. Edwards --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

This is a quick but deep book that explores the role of personal accountability in one's work and personal life. In his own work experience, Miller found that many people look for others to blame their problems and conflicts on. He proposes that instead of asking who is to blame for the situation, we should ask, "What can I do to improve the situation?" Only by being able to ask this "question behind the question" can we take ownership of the problem and start working toward a solution. Throughout the book, Miller (who has consulted for major corporations with his firm, QBQ, Inc.) recounts real-world situations—in customer service, retail sales, personal relationships and the corporate boardroom—and the positive and not-so-positive ways they were handled. Each example reinforces the message that personal accountability and ownership of a problem not only leads to a resolution but also lifts people willing to take ownership and action above those looking to play the "blame game." From responsibility, says the author, comes leadership and greater career opportunities. In one's personal life, Miller says, ownership of conflict can also lead to enhanced relationships and greater enjoyment of daily life.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
It was a beautiful day in downtown Minneapolis when I stopped into a Rock Bottom restaurant for a quick lunch. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
After reading this book, and then going on Amazon and seeing the ridiculous amount of prise this book has received has forced me to review "What I can do?" to stop people from wasting money on this book.

Please - I plead with all of you, individual and corporation alike spend your cash on higher return investments.

The entirety of its message begins and ends with my short quotation, and is simply a short collection of "stories" that the author believes to be inspiring. They are not. In many cases, what is suggested as "personal accountability" is entirely unfeasible in a business setting.

The very first "story" about the author dropping into an extremely busy restaurant, being disappointed that there was no Pepsi and his server, who being extremely himself, utilised "Personal Accountability" -- by sending his manager outside the store (at an incredibly busy time, I remind you) to purchase this one single customer a Pepsi. Great story. Managers everywhere, heed this, this story tells your staff that they can tell you to go do something for them if they feel that they are too busy.

Satire aside, the premise is good, which is the problem. A book is not simply about a premise. No one praises a movie for its premise.

Imagine it: "Wow, that movie's premise was really good. It could've been a really good movie. The acting, the script and the rest of the plot really sucked.. the direction was bad.. the effects were terrible.. but really! The premise! It _could_ have been spectacular! We should buy the DVD."

I admitt now, in the spam of four lines, that I could not end my satire regarding this book. It really is simply fluff, and because of it, and its simplistic message, it will be embraced by upper management everywhere.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars QBQ! continues to work July 13 2004
By Dick T.
As a district mgr in a retail firm, I find it necessary to stay on top of my personal accountability game. It's easy - as John Miller writes in QBQ! - to slip into blame and victim thinking. We have big goals and quotas and we all want to win, but it's easy to ask the worng questions like "When will others carry their weight?" and "Why can't corporate support us more?" But then I work to create what Miller calls QBQs - questions that help me eliminate the blame and complaining. I begin to ask "What can I do?" and "How can I contribute?" and it's amazing how fast I am refocused. We are using the QBQ! training program with all our managers along with the book, and this whole concept of accountability is taking root. Our culture is changing and as we gear up for the end-of-year, it's apparent that people are asking QBQs and we will have better results. I know I will. Miller's book is a fast read, practical and humorous - I recommend it to any person or company wanting to really take personal accountability seriously.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Amazing lifting read April 27 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Really surprised by this little book. It has definitely got me rethinking any negativity in my workplace and trying to succeed within my box outright.
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3.0 out of 5 stars okay Dec 19 2013
By Toni
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
book was easy to read, took about an hour-2 hours to finish. I believe that it is an essential skill for all professional occupations to acquire.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Plays one note, and plays it strong Dec 10 2013
Those looking for nuance or a comprehensive study must look elsewhere. This is a one note song about the need for personal accountability. Which isn't actually a bad thing. We all frame problems in ways that make us powerless to do anything about them. This book tells us to stop doing that and start asking questions that put us in the driver's seat. Which is also of course this book's downfall. Sometimes we shouldn't be taking the driver's seat. Sometimes it's not about what I'm able to do. But this book isn't about those times. If you apply it to the situations where it does apply, this book's philosophy will help. If you think this will solve all your life's ills, your next question might be "How can I get out of this mess?" And you won't know the answer.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A great teaching book Dec 24 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Enjoyed it so much we used it as a topic in a two day management seminar in our company and it was well recived by all attending.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Living mindfully. May 25 2010
By Schmadrian TOP 500 REVIEWER
Normally, I have a fair amount to say after reading a book. In the case of this one, not so much. Mostly because it's stuff I've long believed, lived, espoused. (Although I do have my own version of how to approach things, RBR, or Reason Behind the Reason, which deals with causation and acting gracefully in response to someone's limitations.)

The concepts are simple, and for me, summed up in the title of my review. Anyone who has any experience with yoga, who has entered into that philosophy needs no further explanation.

Well done to Mr. Miller; this is a great contribution not just to the business world, not just to the self-help community, but to society at large; what's here is the sort of 'enlightenment' that was 'common sense and good manners' a century ago.


Personal rating: 9/10 (I'd have appreciated some more illustrations.)
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5.0 out of 5 stars QBQ! does work! July 7 2004
I am in the real estate/investment business and when I read QBQ! it changed completely for the better the way I think. I had been blaming my tenants/customers, property mgrs, the marketing dep't, etc. for my results and when I read QBQ! I sat down that night and asked "How can I be more effective?" and then set about writing out a new plan for my approach to my business. Since then things have improved greatly. The chapter on how I can only change myself has made me a better manager of my people, by far. The book took me an hour to read and then I went back through and re-read and highlighted. I take it wherever I go as it is such a practical message on personal accountability I can use it in all areas of my life. QBQ! deserves 5 stars ... maybe 6. I've read a ton of business books and QBQ! has made the difference for me.
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