Trust me on this: The old stuff is the good stuff.
It was 1995 when the cover of this VHS tape was produced. My first “speaker demo video” ever. No laughing, please! Mustaches were in.
That year, I decided to go out and speak on personal accountability. I’d been selling and implementing leadership and sales training for a decade and had conducted more than ten thousand hours of training with clients. This is where I began to notice that people—including me—tend to ask lousy questions beginning with “Why” “When” and “Who” that not only solve no problems but lead us into victim thinking, procrastination, and blame. Bad stuff.
The Original QBQ! Story
Then one Monday morning Jim, a client, phoned and asked to meet. He’d lost his job as vice president of human resources for a telecommunications firm. Over lunch, he shared that while he was on vacation, three of his five-person staff held a meeting with the CEO to complain about how Jim was running the department. When he returned to work that day, the CEO called him in and, with little to no discussion, fired him.
Feeling protective of a guy I liked, I said, “But, Jim, the question is, why didn’t he give you a chance to explain—you know, to defend yourself?” Nodding in solemn and total agreement, he said, “Yes, John, that’s the question.” An hour later …
We shook hands in the parking lot and I wished him well. But as I opened my car door, it hit me like a brick: That was the wrong question. And I had encouraged him to ask it!
My next thought was: What anyone in Jim’s position—including me—should have asked was the … question behind the question!
Something like, “What is there about my management style that caused my people to go around me?” would’ve been a healthy beginning. Or, “How can I become a more effective manager/leader?”
I soon taught my new The Question Behind the Question concept to a client team—St. Jude Medical in Little Canada, Minnesota. There, two things happened: The “QBQ” acronym was born and I discovered that the idea stuck with people! I realized I had hold of an idea that was simple, unique, and powerful—and one the world truly needed.
QBQ! Is Still New—To Some
Yes, our world needed QBQ! and its message of personal accountability in 1995, but it still needs it today. This reader’s email to us on May 2, 2017 says so!
John, I work in Alaskan tourism and always try to go “the extra mile” for our guests. QBQ! taught me what great service is: No excuses when things go wrong, even if it wasn’t your fault.
One morning, I was getting passengers onto a motorcoach. Due to a mix-up stemming from bad info, I had to tell a group they needed to wait for the next coach. I wasn’t at fault, but I didn’t say who was or make any excuses. I just apologized for the confusion. The customers weren’t super happy, but at least I owned the problem instead of throwing someone on my team “under the bus.” 🙂
Everyone needs QBQ!—it’s so timely!
A note like this is honoring, but it also makes me chuckle, The principle of personal accountability is timely, for sure, but it is also timeless. This powerful, life-changing principle is new to some people, yet it’s old, very very old. And that’s why it works.
Do you QBQ!? If you don’t, here’s a quick tutorial. Now, our discussion question:
“The Question Behind the Question” is 22 years “old.” If you’re using this unique and powerful way of living an accountable life, what value has it brought to you?