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QBQ! The Question Behind the Question

John G. Miller

Retail Price: $19.95
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Format: Hardcover, 115pp.
ISBN: 9780399152337
Publisher: Putnam Publishing Group
Pub. Date: September 2004

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Item No: 9780399152337

Description and Reviews
From The Publisher:

The lack of personal accountability is a problem that has resulted in an epidemic of blame, complaining, and procrastination. No organization-or individual-can achieve goals, compete in the marketplace, fulfill a vision, or develop people and teams without personal accountability.

John G. Miller believes that pointing fingers and blaming others cannot solve the troubles that plague organizations. Rather, the real solutions are found when each of us recognizes the power of personal accountability. In QBQ! The Question Behind the Question, Miller explains how negative, inappropriate questions like "Why do we have to go through all this change?" and "Who dropped the ball?" represent a lack of personal accountability. Conversely, when we ask better questions-QBQs-such as "What can I do to contribute?" or "How can I help solve the problem?" our lives and our organizations are transformed.

The QBQ! Promise
This remarkable and timely book gives a practical method for putting personal accountability into daily action, with astonishing results: problems are solved, internal barriers come down, service improves, teamwork grows, and people adapt to change more quickly. QBQ! is an invaluable resource for anyone seeking to learn, grow, and change. Using this tool, each of us can add tremendous worth to our organizations and to our lives by eliminating blame, complaining, and procrastination.

Who Moved My Cheese? showed readers how to adapt to change.

Fish! helped raise flagging morale.

Execution guided readers to overcome the inability to get things done.

QBQ! The Question Behind the Question, already a phenomenon in its self-published edition, addresses the most important issue in business and society today: personal accountability.

The lack of personal accountability has resulted in an epidemic of blame, complaining, and procrastination. No organization-or individual-can achieve goals, compete in the marketplace, fulfill a vision, or develop people and teams without personal accountability.

The solution involves an entirely new approach. We can no longer ask, "Who dropped the ball?" "Why can't they do their work properly?" or "Why do we have to go through all these changes?" Instead, every individual has to ask the question behind the question: "How can I improve this situation?" "What can I contribute?" or "How can I make a difference?"

Succinct, insightful, and practical, QBQ! The Question Behind the Question provides a method for putting personal accountability into daily action, which can bring astonishing results: problems get solved, barriers come down, service improves, teamwork grows, and people adapt to change.


This is a quick but deep book that explores the role of personal accountability in one's work and personal life. In his own work experience, Miller found that many people look for others to blame their problems and conflicts on. He proposes that instead of asking who is to blame for the situation, we should ask, "What can I do to improve the situation?" Only by being able to ask this "question behind the question" can we take ownership of the problem and start working toward a solution. Throughout the book, Miller (who has consulted for major corporations with his firm, QBQ, Inc.) recounts real-world situations—in customer service, retail sales, personal relationships and the corporate boardroom—and the positive and not-so-positive ways they were handled. Each example reinforces the message that personal accountability and ownership of a problem not only leads to a resolution but also lifts people willing to take ownership and action above those looking to play the "blame game." From responsibility, says the author, comes leadership and greater career opportunities. In one's personal life, Miller says, ownership of conflict can also lead to enhanced relationships and greater enjoyment of daily life.
—Publishers Weekly, Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


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About the Author

John G. Miller is the author of Personal Accountability and founder of QBQ, Inc., an organizational develop-ment firm dedicated to "Helping People Ask the Question Behind the Question." He is a graduate of Cornell University, and has been actively involved in the training and development industry since 1986. He lives in Denver, Colorado, with his wife, Karen, and their seven children.

Table of Contents
Introduction What Ever Happened To...1
1A Picture of Personal Accountability6
2Making Better Choices14
3QBQ! The Question Behind the Question17
4Don't Ask "Why?"20
5The Victim24
6"Why is this happening to me?"26
7"Why do we have to go through all this change?"28
8"Why don't they communicate better?"32
9Don't Ask "When?"33
10Procrastination: The Friend of Failure36
11"When will we get more tools and better systems?"39
12"When are we going to hear something new?"41
13Don't Ask "Who?"43
14A Poor Sailor Blames the Wind48
16Beat the Ref53
17"Who dropped the ball?"56
19The Foundation of Teamwork61
20Making Accountability Personal: All QBQs Contain an "I"63
21I Can Only Change Me66
22"He didn't, I did."71
23"When will others walk their talks?"73
24An Integrity Test76
25The Power of One77
26A QBQ Twist79
27Will the Real Role Models Please Stand Up!80
28Practicing Personal Accountability: All QBQs Focus on Action81
29The Risk of Doing Nothing84
30"Thanks for Shopping at the Home Depot!"86
31Leaders At All Levels91
32The Cornerstone of Leadership94
33Leaders Are Not Problem Solvers96
34A Great List of Lousy Questions98
35The Spirit of the QBQ106
37We Buy Too Many Books110
38A Final Picture111
39The Motor of Learning115

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