QBQ works well with the Bovo-Tighe Foundations of Excellence philosophy
In our work with clients, we give people tools to make them more productive at work every day. We help them discover their own strengths, and how to become a transformational leader, regardless of their professional status within their organization. Our mission is to make everyone more productive, supportive and collaborative in both professional and personal lives. To that end, we borrow useful tools from collaborative partners that help our clients succeed.
One of those is a concept called QBQ, the Question Behind the Question, created by a friend of ours, John Miller. It is a very simple, direct method for keeping yourself on track when “practicing personal accountability at work and in life.”
QBQ complements our Foundations of Excellence approach very well because it focuses on the day-to-day job of leadership: How do you move your team and yourself forward with energy and enthusiasm towards the accomplishment of your mutual goals?
QBQ in Combination with the Pursuit of Truth
Part of our Foundations of Excellence development philosophy is The Pursuit of Truth, which focuses on the same dynamic activity QBQ does: Ask productive questions that improve understanding, and move the team forward without dwelling on the past.
We emphasize a Pursuit of Truth mindset because you can’t make better choices about future action unless you are frank about your situation. What really caused the event that occurred, good or bad? What are the real obstacles on our path to success? Which solutions could be the most efficient in getting us past the obstacles?
Bovo-Tighe and Mr. Miller have the same goals:
- Eliminate blame, complaining and procrastination.
- Accept personal responsibility not just for results that have occurred, but for moving forward productively.
There are differences, of course, between QBQ and the Foundations of Excellence (FoE).
In QBQ, you don’t ask “why” you ask “how,” as in “How can I help to fix the problem?”
In FoE, you pursue the truth, which does involve asking “why?” because you need information to make better business decisions. Asking “why?” comes in many flavors, of course. Here are just a couple:
- “Why did this happen?” You as a leader must control the conversation that such a question may start. But, while you must nip unproductive bouts of blame-placing in the bud, you do need to explore the circumstances that led to a particular event or result. You cannot fix problems you don’t understand.
- “Why not try this solution?” This “why question” invites input from others about the pros and cons of a new course of action.
So, don’t be afraid of “why”! As long as you keep the conversation forward-thinking and action-oriented, you will get productive answers to “why questions.” (Full disclosure: John Miller is on board with such “why” questions. His focus is on eliminating the “why me?” self-pity traps.)
QBQ is also very much focused on you and your personal accountability, and does not dwell on the behaviors and motivations of those around you. For a leader, however, business decisions cannot be based solely on your own initiative, and fostering strong bonds with fellow workers is critical to helping your team of people succeed. So, with Foundations of Excellence, you do focus on understanding the motivations behind a person’s behavior or position, so that you may adapt your approach to work with them productively.
Adding the forward-thinking QBQ approach, however, reminds us to move quickly back to a position of personal responsibility:
- “How can we make sure we get the results we want the next time?”
- “What can each of us do to achieve these results?”
In the Pursuit of Truth, you ask “why, what, who and how,” and keep asking until you and your team are sure you have clarified as much as possible of the true situation and your real options. We certainly do not recommend endless analysis before taking action, but a better foundation of knowledge allows you to better answer the QBQ (How will I work towards our objective from here?). Embedding both mindsets as core leadership behavior ensures that you answer the QBQ with more productive answers.
Have you adopted either or both of these mindsets personally? How have they worked for you?