Outstanding Organizations: No Denial Allowed

“Complacency is a state of satisfaction combined with an unawareness of potential danger, and it’s often characterized by one word: smug. Outstanding organizations know that “smug” doesn’t work. They understand the need to beat back complacency again and again.” Outstanding! Chapter 43: “Stay Alarmed”

In the late 1980s, early in my career selling management training, a mentor would say this after a client meeting that didn’t go as well as I’d planned: “Remember, just because they deny they have problems doesn’t mean they don’t have any.”

Denial. It’s a dangerous place to live.

Whenever any of us on the QBQ, Inc. team comes in to teach “Personal Accountability and the QBQ!” we always provide a pre-session questionnaire. Here is one of the questions we ask:

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3 Powerful Principles of QBQ! Parenting

MillersThe Millers

Kristin, the oldest of our seven children and a member of the QBQ, Inc. team, knowing my “salesy” personality, coined a phrase a decade ago that still makes me chuckle. She said, “Just bump into my dad at any airport and pretend you don’t know him and he’ll give you a free book!”

So, a month ago I landed at her airport in Madison, Wisconsin where she and her two little ones greeted me. She immediately asked, “Do you have a copy of the parenting book on you!?” When I pulled one from my bag, she grabbed it and ran off to give it to a mom she’d just met five minutes earlier!

Like dad, like daughter. Call me proud.

Well, that “Wisconsin Hockey Mom,” Meg Goss, just posted this review of Parenting the QBQ Way (PQW)—and we’re totally honored!

Parenting Advice I Can Actually Use and Put Into Practice!

Since the book came out, Karen and I have been interacting with moms and dads by email, growing our “Parenting the QBQ Way” Facebook page, selling books, and, of course, giving some away. It’s been fun!

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“Me? Entitled? Definitely!” A Message from Millennial Me

At QBQ, Inc. we are blessed to speak on personal accountability at a time when our world truly needs it. Teaching QBQ! is fun—and relevant. Relevant to the people I work with, and most importantly—relevant to me!

Because guess what? Want to know a secret?

I am entitled.

Or, said correctly, I find myself feeling entitled. Often. Regularly. And it makes me sick.

I am writing this as a “millennial.” I shudder to even use the term, as our generation has been dragged through the mud a bit. As the oldest of the millennials (“millennials” were born 1980-2000; I was born in 1983), I have struggled to identify with much of my generation. However, no matter how I feel about it, I am a millennial.

In the past three days alone, I’ve read two articles about millennials—my narcissistic, entitled, lazy, self-absorbed generation. I’ve read about our lack of professionalism, our inability to hold a decent conversation without checking our smart phones, and our inadequate understanding of or respect for the establishment. And, of course, our sorely entitled attitudes.

As I read these articles, I found myself scoffing. “Oh, those millennials. Aren’t they so cute—self-absorbed, unwilling to work hard and put the time in …” Oh wait … that’s me!

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3 Traits of Accountable People

Character Traits of Accountable People

QBQ! fans know that accountable folks don’t ask Incorrect Questions (IQs) such as:

“Why don’t I ever get a break?”

“When will they communicate better?”

“Who dropped the ball?”

QBQ! believers know that IQs like these lead to Victim Thinking, Procrastination, and Blame. They also know that asking The Question Behind the Question (QBQ) is the way to eliminate these traps. QBQs such as, “What can I do to solve the problem?” and “How can I contribute?” make the difference. This is all good.

But once a person takes QBQ! to heart and begins to practice personal accountability, there are a few outward signs—traits and characteristics—she or he will exhibit. Here are just three:

17 CommentsParenting, Personal Accountability

Building a QBQ! Culture: Hiring Right

Even in a difficult economy, organizations must hire. And though “recruiting, interviewing, and selecting” is always important, it’s even more so when times are lean, mostly because the available margin of selection error is slimmer.

Said differently: We just can’t afford any hiring mistakes!

So here’s a recommendation from us on improving the odds of finding a “good hire”:

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7 Costs of Blame

Blame, it’s a bad thing—and it takes on many forms. Here’s a humorous one:

An executive at a medical products distribution organization told me, “So, yeah, we’ve got some problems, like our field salespeople calling our headquarters the ‘sales prevention club’!”

Hey, a new acronym—the SPC!

If we didn’t have the home office getting in our way, we could make more sales!

Blame can also take on the dangerous form of culprit-seeking questions like:

21 CommentsLeadership, Personal Accountability

Ownership Is Outstanding!

If you’ve read Outstanding!, then you know all about the “47 ways to make your organization exceptional.” If you haven’t, here’s the list.

Well, author’s prerogative—I’m adding a 48th:

Be Like Mike.

Our Colorado land-line and Internet provider is CenturyLink. They do a fine job for us, but I don’t go around raving about them. I have better things to do. However, I will take the time to extol the virtues of Mike, because people like him are the key to organizations being outstanding.

In the summer of 2012, Karen and I bought a “second home.” Yeah, I know, sounds snooty and uppity all at the same time. We didn’t plan to do it, but when we rented a house in Fraser, CO for a three day June get-away and saw that it was for sale, we asked, “Do we want to invest in this?”


So, we did. Overall, it’s been great, except for one thing: the DSL. Yes, even up in the mountains—I. Want. My. Internet!

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How to Hold Accountable Conversations

“If I agreed with you, we’d both be wrong.”


Conversations. We have them all the time. With family, colleagues, friends, our dog—even ourselves. They’ve been taking place since the dawn of time. Conversing with others probably began like this:

Adam: “Why did you do that!? I told you not to eat from the forbidden tree! I can’t believe you would listen to that serpent’s lies! If you’d had a mother, you’d probably be just like her!!!”

Eve: “You did it, too! And why didn’t you kill that snake? You told me weeks ago you’d handle it. It wasn’t my fault. Why can’t you be more like your father???”

Sound familiar?

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Practicing What I Preach: The Ultimate QBQ!

I missed my flight. There is nothing more frustrating than sprinting through an airport, and though truly no fault of your own, coming smack up against a closed door at your gate.

It has always been ironic to me that we conduct in live, interactive “Personal Accountability and the QBQ!” sessions all around the country, and then head to airports. With airlines. And delays. Hot beds of frustration, anger, and where the worst in people can come out.

Sadly, today was one of those days for me. It all started last night around 11pm when my airline cancelled my flight home from Louisville to my home in Madison*, WI. After almost 90 minutes on the phone, (83 of those minutes spent listening to advertisements and irritating music), I had a new flight on a different airline at an earlier time. I figured it was a blessing in disguise, getting me home to my children and husband two hours earlier than planned. I went to bed past midnight tired, but glad to have that settled.

8 CommentsPersonal Accountability