After 28 years of calling on senior executives, I want to scream …
STOP THE MADNESS! LOSE THE CONSULTANTS!
I just returned from speaking on “Personal Accountability and the QBQ!” in Europe. In my travels, I met several people who told me their employer currently has “change management” consultants* (Old joke: A consultant is someone who borrows my watch and tells me what time it is!) roaming their hallways, holding small employee meetings, and leading executives to and through mountaintop retreats.
And my guess is, the consultants are working from a definition of “organizational culture” that sounds something like this:
Culture is the values, norms, working language, systems, symbols, beliefs and habits of people, resulting in the pattern of collective behaviors and assumptions that are taught to new organizational members as a way of perceiving, and even thinking and feeling. Organizational culture affects the way people and groups interact with colleagues, clients, and stakeholders.
Here’s my definition, provided to you at no charge:
“Culture” is the questions people ask when stuff happens.
Like this stuff …
- Change occurs
- Confusion reigns
- Mistakes are made
- Results suffer
- Resources tighten
When we look at “culture” through the lens of Incorrect Questions (IQs) and QBQs, we’re able to discern the state of an organization. In other words, in any culture, people can choose to take the low roads of victim thinking, blame, and procrastination by asking IQs or the high road of PERSONAL ACCOUNTABILITY by asking The Question Behind the Question (QBQs).
Allow me to provide a quick QBQ! content tutorial here … and also this refresher:
“Why”-based Incorrect Questions (IQs) represent victim/entitlement thinking
“Who”-based IQs cause us to seek culprits, point fingers, and blame
“When”-based IQs lead to procrastination
Said another way:
IQs = Bad culture
QBQs = Good culture
So, think about your organization as we apply this material in each “stuff happens” scenario:
IQs: “Why do we have to go through all this change?” “When will management stop doing this to us?” and “Why don’t people just get it?”
QBQs: “How can I adapt to the changing world?” “What can I do to better understand the ‘why’ behind the change?” and “How can I coach my staff through change more effectively?”
IQs: “When is someone going to train me?” “Who made that dumb decision?” and “When are they going to tell us what’s going on?”
QBQs: “What can I do to develop myself?” “How can I better understand?” and “What can I do to connect with others right now?”
Mistakes are made:
IQs: “Why can’t that department do its job right?” “Who dropped the ball?” and “When will someone fix this?”
QBQs: “How can I help solve the problem?” and “What can I do to excel in my job today?”
IQs: “Why don’t others work as hard as I do?” “When will they care more?” and “Why can’t we find good people?”
QBQs: “How can I contribute right now?” “What can I do to make a difference?” and “How can I develop the team I have?”
Resources are tight:
IQs: “Why don’t we get more tools to do our jobs?” “When will we get better systems?” and “Who cut our budgets?”
QBQs: “How can I succeed with the resources I have?” and “What can I do to go above and beyond?”
Okay, so, how do you rate your organization’s culture right now? The content above is worth sharing with colleagues and having open, honest conversation. And, remember, you don’t need a consultant to do that!
*Disclaimer: I’m sure there are some consultants worth engaging. 🙂
For Discussion and Application:
How healthy is your organization’s culture? Are people asking IQs or QBQs? How about … you? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.