In April 1995 I was at a coffee shop in Minneapolis with Ray Barton, then president of Great Clips, now Chairman of the Board. I told him I planned to base my speaking career on this tool I’d created called “QBQ! The Question Behind the Question.” His response?
“John, if you’re going to teach QBQ and its message of personal accountability, you’ll always have work.”
Ray spoke wisdom. Eighteen years later, it’s all we do here at QBQ, Inc. Why?
Because PERSONAL ACCOUNTABILITY is foundational—and solid foundations are always needed.
Have you been to Denver International recently? If you have, maybe you noticed an ongoing construction project. The “light rail” is coming some 20 miles out from Denver and they’re building an airport hotel. The model on the airport terminal floor shows the architect’s vision of an absolutely huge structure. Someday, people will walk through the rail station and sleep in the hotel and not even think about what lies beneath.
But I can show you with this picture I took …
Not very exciting, is it? Nope. But, 110% necessary. No hotel and light rail terminal combo could stand up without a foundation—at least not for long. Most buildings can’t.
Just like people and organizations. Without the proper foundation, we fail and entities fall.
About the same time I met with Ray, another person advised me to not speak on personal accountability because—in her words—“It’s not a topic.” Though I rejected that input, on some level she was right.
Personal Accountability is not a topic! In fact, it’s way more than a topic …
And therein lies the mistake organizations are making. They’re training on topics such as “customer service,” “management,” “sales technique,” “change,” and “teamwork.” All good stuff, for sure. And, there’s that new movement around “happiness” and “fun” at work. Sorry if this offends, but to borrow a Brian Tracy term, these are “mental candy.” Please, if you’re going to invest precious time and limited training dollars, take it from a guy who’s been in this field since 1986—choose mental protein; choose skills development.
But I digress.
What most organizations are doing wrong is they’re training on this or that, but failing to lay a solid base—a foundation—of personal accountability and individual ownership.
In your opinion, does it make sense to:
- Teach a manager supervisory skills if she’s still going to play victim by asking, “Why can’t HR find better people?”
- Teach a customer care rep phone skills if he’s still going to whine and complain in the break room by asking, “When will they pay us more?”
- Teach the sales team how to close sales if they’re still going to blame the home office, the competition, and their “lousy territory” for poor sales results?
- Teach employees about “getting “engaged” if they’re still going to procrastinate by asking, “When is someone going to improve this place?”
We at QBQ, Inc. don’t believe any of this makes much sense. Favorite line: If common sense was so common, we wouldn’t be in business!
It’s true that one needs to learn to walk before one can run. Walking is basic, fundamental. It comes before. Just like personal accountability. If we don’t have it instilled as a core value in our organizational culture, we’ll go nowhere fast. But train people first to ask The Question Behind the Questions (QBQ) and all other training will be a far better investment.
So, let’s dialogue …
Is there training happening in your organization and, if so, how effective is it? What, in your opinion, makes training work? What makes it fail?
We want to hear from you!
Meanwhile, enjoy this video of QBQ! clients discussing “Personal Accountability & the QBQ!” training!
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