Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “QBQ! The Question Behind the Question: Practicing Personal Accountability in Work and in Life” as Want to Read:
QBQ! The Question Behind the Question: Practicing Personal Accountability in Work and in Life
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

QBQ! The Question Behind the Question: Practicing Personal Accountability in Work and in Life

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  9,768 ratings  ·  658 reviews
The lack of personal accountability is a problem that has resulted in an epidemic of blame, victim thinking, complaining, and procrastination. No organization—or individual—can successfully compete in the marketplace, achieve goals and objectives, provide outstanding service, engage in exceptional teamwork, or develop people without personal accountability.  

John G. Mille
Hardcover, 115 pages
Published September 9th 2004 by Tarcherperigee (first published 2001)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about QBQ! The Question Behind the Question, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Nate I can admit to victim thinking and making excuses about how I never had anyone to invest into my productivity as a kid. QBQ challenges me to think, "H…moreI can admit to victim thinking and making excuses about how I never had anyone to invest into my productivity as a kid. QBQ challenges me to think, "How can I grow, thrive, and compete against people who have more support than I do?"(less)
THN The true spirit of "personal accountability" is not about blaming, neither blaming others nor blaming yourself, but about being proactive and positive…moreThe true spirit of "personal accountability" is not about blaming, neither blaming others nor blaming yourself, but about being proactive and positive, to take the lead.

With true personal accountability, you will feel, inside you, the great freedom and power. You will breathe deeper, see clearer, be active and hungry. Your mind will become so clear, that you are aware of everything happening in your past and present thoughts, that you could be utterly honest to yourself. You will have a high self-esteem and you will fear nothing. Most importantly, you will believe that you could improve, could become much better fundamentally, as a better person, with a better mind, a better manner, and a better life.

This is why you will still be OK no matter what.

There are many other books with the keywords "personal accountability", which should discuss these topics more in-depth.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.84  · 
Rating details
 ·  9,768 ratings  ·  658 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of QBQ! The Question Behind the Question: Practicing Personal Accountability in Work and in Life
Chris Rock
Mar 31, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: business
It's unfortunate that the system won't let me give this less than one star.

Like many business books, this book can be summarized on a postcard: Take more personal responsibility for the problems you encounter. Don't ask questions that blame other people, or express frustration (e.g., "Why is this happening to me?") Instead, ask the "Question Behind the Question (QBQ) (e.g., "How can I improve this?").

The message itself has some value, but the book over-promises on its usefulness and under-delive
Nov 08, 2011 rated it did not like it
This book was required reading at a large retail department store chain, where I worked,when it was taken over by new management. "QBQ" became our new mantra and managers were constantly hounding us to answer the "Question Behind the Question." It's certainly light reading and not much of a challenge intellectually; it does make suggestions that encourage excellent customer service - there is nothing wrong with that, but...the overall premise, that there are no limits to providing such service, ...more
Scott Freeman
Oct 17, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2010-books
This book painted with such a broad brush that it failed to capture any of the nuance of interpersonal relationships and corporate responsibility. I understand the concept of personal accountability and not shifting blame. However, his major premise that we do not ask why or who but only what I can do misses the mark completely. There are times where it is imperative to look at the actions of others and how the team impacts and effects productivity. The author's desire to prop up his business an ...more
Sara (Empress Pengy)
Mar 14, 2017 rated it did not like it
This is a hideous, hideous book that I, like many people in shitty low-wage/no benefit jobs was required to read for work. It's main message seems to be how can I help the CEO get richer by groveling and debasing myself in front of ridiculous, over-demanding customers. I take pride in my work and always believe in being polite and helpful but dude, if we're out of milk I'm not running down the street to get you some from the convenience store. ...more
Mar 26, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: various-skills
This book was pretty annoying, because it sings the tune of a cranky old white guy with bootstrap mentality, and fuck a bunch of horrible humans and oppressive power systems in the deathculture of heterosexist capitalist patriarchy that create structural barriers to people's abilities to be happy, productive, and satisfied or whatever. It's about "personal" accountability, however, so let's assume we get to define for ourselves to what values and standards we are accountable, and that we possess ...more
Sep 09, 2015 rated it it was ok
Read this for work. Not impressed. Personal accountability is important, yes. This book just read like a branding and marketing of ideas and concepts that are in lots of other books.

Some of it a bit too corporate and (this is an example from the book for teachers): "You feel overworked and underpaid? Well...what can you do to reignite your passion for teaching?"

Daniel Silvert
Jul 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
There’s big wisdom in this little book. John Miller tackles a big subject, personal accountability, with a surprisingly simple premise: The questions we ask ourselves, “why is this happening again?” “Who is responsible,” and “When will this improve?” determines our emotional response to the difficult situations that life presents. Ask the wrong questions and we move backwards into blaming others, protecting ourselves, and rationalizing failure. Ask ourselves QBQ questions and we’re much more lik ...more
Apr 10, 2009 rated it it was ok
This book was loaned to me by a co-worker (whose boyfriend apparently lives by the "QBQ"). Very short, very quick read. A little too simplistic. Not anything I haven't heard before. Basically espouses personal accountability. Don't blame other people. Instead of asking negative questions, ask questions that start with either "What" or "How," include "I," and include some kind of action. Not bad advice, although it talks about not blaming others or complaining, but doesn't address the issues of n ...more
Avolyn Fisher
Sep 22, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: short-reads, 2014
This book was introduced to me from my employer who brought in John's daughter to introduce us to the QBQ! method.

First off - I have no issues with the message this book is trying to convey, I believe wholeheartedly in the importance of personal accountability and I agree that often times we are too quick to blame in the workplace and don't take enough time looking internally for the solutions to our problems.

However, how does one prevent "silos" from happening if every individual is only lookin
This books talks about recognizing personal accountability in all areas of your life...personally and professionally.

Favorite Quotes:

pg. 23

"How can I do my job better today?"
"What can I do to improve the situation?"
"How can I support others?"

Pg. 39

Most of us have heard the saying, "Creativity is thinking outside the box." There's a lot of truth in that, but to me true creativity is this:

Succeeding within the box.

pg. 46

Blame and "whodunit" questions solve nothing. They create fear, destroy creat
Aug 25, 2010 rated it liked it
another jewelry lady suggested this book to a few of us for our business, so i picked it up and finally decided to read it. it took me less than an hour- a fast, easy read.

i have to admit that i was turned off by the second page. "on a cross coountry flight the flight attendant got on the intercom and said, 'Sorry everyone but the movie we promised you will not be shown today. Catering put the wrong one on board.'" He then goes on to use this as an example of people not taking responsibility an
Katie Leas
Jan 30, 2010 rated it really liked it
My company used to have a book club in which the entire staff participated. Prior to my becoming a full time employee with the company and being included in this activity, they read "QBQ!" The book continues to be referenced by executive management and our Account Service Department is reading the book together. Well, I couldn't be left out, so I had to buy it and read it for myself.

I learned a few of the principles in this book though my own failings earlier in life (okay, within the last 12 y
Kristopher Kelly
Apr 30, 2012 rated it did not like it
Read this for work. Now I'm wondering: How can I never read another book like this?

The eponymous acronym is meaningless and seems like simply an attempt to brand the pretty basic idea that one shouldn't look to blame others but should look for a way to help out in any given situation. How that relates to questions, either in front or behind each other, seems a bit unclear to me.
Feb 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: my-library
I was given this to read in the first 30 days of my new job, and I must say it’s a great way to reset your mind before things get hectic. I unknowingly followed the QBQ life in my last job, until I started doing other people’s jobs. This was a breath of fresh air and I made sure to take my time reading it, even though I wanted to blast through it. At times, the points seemed common sense to me, but they might not be fore every one! Common sense is actually not common....sadly. But! I definitely ...more
Oct 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Everyone should read this. I hope I make a few changes in my life that help me be a better leader.
Jul 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is a rather different book which focuses on the epidemic "blame" game which is rampant today. John Miller attempts to pursuade one to accept responsibility, be accountable and, above all, quit blaming.

He suggest we drop questions that begin with "who" and "why" and change them to "show" and "what". He also says to remove the "they" and "them" and replace with "I". So, when a "situation" arises, instead of trying to dodge blame or find an excuse, pose a question like "What can I do to help?"
Jul 19, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Being accountable and refining from blaming others is in itself a good piece of advice. But the author fails to see that some time taking responsibility means ignoring problems that are not your responsibility or avoiding time consuming creativity during the rush hour in order to accommodate one customer at the cost of several other and/or your already stressed out coworkers.
I don't know about the United states but many of the examples in this book are the exacts formula for losing your job, som
Jun 30, 2017 rated it it was ok
Nathan Masacek
The book QBQ is not one of my favorites. The book I recently read was “QBQ!”, It stands for the question behind the question. This book was written by John G. Miller. I personally didn’t like this book really because of just the style that it had. I don’t really enjoy this style of book writing where there is short stories, but it depends on what you like.
This book is a little short, so it is hard to write about. The basic moral of this book was taking situations that the writer had in his life
Evie Devries
Mar 27, 2018 rated it it was ok
Lack of personal accountability is a problem a lot of people struggle with in this day and age. In this book the author John Miller explains how to gain it and the little pieces that goes along with personal accountability in order to gain that skill. Each chapter shows each little puzzle piece that fits into the topic of personal accountability and most chapters include a question like who? what? where? when? or why? For example there are chapters about the Foundation of Teamwork, Making Better ...more
Ryan Rodriquez
Jul 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Personal accountability starts with you (this should be said into a mirror). John Miller poses a practical way to focus on what we can do to incorporate personal accountability into our everyday lives. At the same time, his system stomps out the idea of victimhood. Take an afternoon and read this short and focused book on personal accountability and you will start looking at “problems” as opportunities for improvement.
Jan 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Personal accountability (QBQ application) is a standard within our culture at AB&T and I read it once a year to bring it top of mind for myself and my team. Quick and effective read- Love the message of personal accountability and action!
Isaac Foster
Jul 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A highly effective, if short, leadership book that gets to the heart of what it means to be a leader. The examples are effective and insightful, as is the punchy writing style. A book that is meant to be digested quickly and read frequently.
John O'Malley
Dec 13, 2020 rated it it was ok
This book should be a blog post.
Doesn’t need 38 chapters to say the same thing over and over again.
Feb 14, 2021 rated it really liked it
A good reminder to focus on what we can control and ask questions that drive us to the best, most relevant and useful answers.
Jul 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
i read this book for a management leadership class and work and loved it.
Quinn Morrow
May 28, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 4-work, self-help
5 stars for the message. 3 stars for the writing.

QBQ is a great message that today's world needs to hear: stop blaming others. Analyze the situation, use what life gave you, and work your butt off. I'd go as far to say that this book is basically the American Dream. Sometimes I dream about the ole glory days that my grandparents lived in (but those days also had issues). Regarless, I think this book has a good message.

But the writing was not great. This is a great length for this book- I was abl
Nov 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: business
A great book about personal accountability in the business world.

I recommend this book.
Jan 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Extremely informative book under the self-help umbrella all about Personal responsibility. There are a lot of problems in today's world that can be boiled down to this books' contents. Everyone blames everything on every BUT THEMSELVES.
You can't dance? The floor must be uneven! Can't travel or go on vacation? Your boss doesn't pay you enough! Project not get done in time? Boss didn't give me enough time, he talks too much, I was busy! Work not done right? CEO blames a manager who then blames e
Tray Tucker
Apr 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
John Millers perspective on personal accountability is a breathe of fresh air, many people don't think this way in the work place. Definitely some good take aways although I could of used some more on dealing with people that don't feel the need to take on personal accountability. ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Looking for a book 1 6 Mar 16, 2018 04:46PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Fred Factor: How passion in your work and life can turn the ordinary into the extraordinary
  • EntreLeadership: 20 Years of Practical Business Wisdom from the Trenches
  • Fish!: A Remarkable Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results
  • The Legend of the Monk and the Merchant: Principles for Successful Living
  • Rhinoceros Success: The Secret to Charging Full Speed Toward Every Opportunity
  • Raving Fans: A Revolutionary Approach to Customer Service
  • Competitive Advantage: Creating and Sustaining Superior Performance
  • The Go-Getter (a Story That Tells You How to Be One)
  • The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable
  • The Truth about Leadership: The No-Fads, Heart-Of-The-Matter Facts You Need to Know
  • If Disney Ran Your Hospital: 9 1/2 Things You Would Do Differently
  • The (7L) The Seven Levels of Communication: Go From Relationships to Referrals
  • I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t): Telling the Truth about Perfectionism, Inadequacy, and Power
  • Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World
  • Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action
  • Know What You're FOR: A Growth Strategy for Work, An Even Better Strategy for Life
  • Our Iceberg Is Melting: Changing and Succeeding Under Any Conditions
  • How Full Is Your Bucket?
See similar books…
See top shelves…
John G. Miller is the founder of QBQ, Inc., an organizational development company dedicated to making personal accountability a core value for organizations and individuals. QBQ, Inc. has worked with hundreds of Fortune 500 and other companies and governmental and non-government organizations internationally. Miller, who appears frequently on national television and radio, is the author of the bes ...more

Related Articles

  Luvvie Ajayi Jones—author, cultural critic, digital entrepreneur—might be best described as a professional truthteller. Her crazily popular...
51 likes · 0 comments
“There’s not a chance we’ll reach our full potential until we stop blaming each other and start practicing personal accountability.” 64 likes
“Ownership: 'A commitment of the head, heart, and hands to fix the problem and never again affix the blame.” 16 likes
More quotes…