Never Hear These 3 Dangerous Words Again …

Like little boys everywhere, our 4-year-old grandson, Joshua, can be loud. When my wife, Karen—aka “Grandma Nonnie”—was driving our van recently with Josh and his toddler sister, “Becca Boo,” sitting behind her in their carseats, she asked Josh to lower his voice. Josh complied. But then he turned to his sister (co-conspirator?) and whispered …

“Some people have bad days.”

The total disowning of a problem (“Not my problem!”) is normal for a human at age four. Even cute.

It’s not so cute—and shouldn’t be normal—in a 40-year-old professional representing a supplier of products and services to the marketplace.

I was venting my frustration to a department manager of a hospital because I was “displeased” with their patient admitting process. As our call wound down, he said this:

“Well, Mr. Miller, though I wasn’t involved in this situation and am not responsible for what happened, I’m sorry.”

Now, if you know the QBQ! message of personal accountability and/or have received our QuickNote emails for a while, you’re wondering, Uh oh, John, what did you say back to this guy!?!

Nothing. I just smiled and thought, Hmm, now that’s a blog story.

Anyway, who knows why he went out of his way to completely disown the problem. It might’ve been the fear of being sued or getting in trouble with his boss. Maybe he wasn’t parented “in a QBQ way.” Or possibly, his organizational culture is simply one of people not owning problems.

We’ll never know.

At QBQ, Inc., we employ a four step process of accountability we call OWN IT! that enables us to take on a problem as our own to solve. You can use it in your organization to eliminate those three dangerous words: NOT MY PROBLEM!

Steps accountable people take to OWN IT!

1. Claim the Problem 

Until I own a problem as mine, I will never solve it. It’s here we prevent the all-too-common, “Not my job” and “Not my department” attitude from ruling us. Like a small child clutching a toy, just think, It’s mine!

CLAIM a problem today.

2. Connect with the problem 

When I understand why it’s an important problem to solve, I can achieve a level of emotional investment. This entails understanding the consequences to my customer and my organization of not solving the problem.

When we CONNECT, we care. It’s good to care.

3. Commit to the problem 

When I resolve to solve the problem, dangerous thoughts like, It’s too difficult! and There are too many roadblocks! can be conquered. In our complex, complicated, and ever-changing organizations, it’s pretty easy to not see the problem-solving process through to the point of resolution.

“Sticktuitiveness” comes from COMMITMENT.

4. Correct the problem 

It’s here we finish the job. It’s when we arrive at a resolution/solution that’s meets the needs of our customer, be they inside or outside the organization.

CORRECTION of the problem is always the goal. Otherwise, why own it?!

[Tweet “CORRECTION of the problem is always the goal. OWN IT!”]

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As we say in Outstanding!, in less-than-stellar organizations problems get passed up and down the line. But in outstanding organizations, individuals practice personal accountability for solving problems.

So, eliminate the words NOT MY PROBLEM! from your organization today … and be outstanding!

Discussion Questions:
In your organization, are problems “passed on” or tackled by individuals?
How would the OWN IT! process of CLAIM/CONNECT/COMMIT/CORRECT help your organization?
What problem do you need to own right now?
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8 Responses

  1. Great message today, John! We’re in the throes of a merger, and I’m seeing some of this. My mantra has been, “Own it, learn it, fix it, learn from it!” No room for blame or finger pointing. Thank you for your wise words!

  2. Thanks for the thought-provoking message. As a member of a healthcare team, this hit uncomfortably close to home, and is something that I’ll use to help illustrate the importance of owning the problem!

    I showed this post to a colleague, whose response to the 4 tenets of QBQ problem-solving was “Wow, we need to post those on the wall for everyone to see!”

  3. This is so true today’s world needs to be prayed for because this sort of thing is being said every where. People need to own the problem. I am a people pleaser and love helping people. Our Motto at work was remarkable service!!!! But the problem we were told to hand over the problem or situation to the customer let them handle it and make them more responsible. So on my EPR I asked the question how do you do both of these things? Oxy moron! Now they took the moto remarkable service away!

  4. John,

    Thanks for your timely email. It was just the extra kick “in the pants” I needed to tackle one of my problems! I took care of it the very same day!

    I appreciate the very practical, real life scenarios that you share in your emails.


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