Saturday, June 12, 2010

Flipping the Switch!

The book of the week was Flipping the Switch by John G. Miller. I couldn't go much longer without reading another book by Miller. This book is very much focused on the principles of QBQ - Question behind the question. It takes the original book and channels the concept into results in several categories: Learning, Ownership, Creativity, Service and Trust. Let's start with the bulk of my original posting on QBQ!, Miller's original book on the subject.

"Miller really knows how to tell a story. The book in incredibly easy to read and hard to put down. Some examples of "bad" questions are:

-"Why don't customers follow instructions?"
-"Who made the mistake?"
-"Why doesn't anyone else do as much work as me?"
-"Why don't I get paid more?"

Some better questions to ask yourself would be:

-"How can I serve the customer better?"
-"What can I do today to be more effective?"
-"How can I be a more effective coach?"
-"What can I do to be more productive?"

Notice anything about the second set of questions? They start with How and What instead of Why or Who or When. They focus on "I" instead of them, they, or someone else. And most importantly they focus on action. To get ahead in this world there is only one person that can be changed, and that's YOU. If you focus on asking questions dedicated toward making yourself better you will be much better off than someone that is asking questions about procrastination or complaining.

Some of the stories in this book were very entertaining. One story that really incorporated the skills I try to push into people's lives through this blog goes like this: A man stopped at Rock Bottom restaurant in downtown Minneapolis. The place was packed and a boy holding a bunch of plates noticed the man hadn't been helped yet, so he took it upon himself to help the man. He asked what the man wanted and the man said he just wanted a salad and a couple of rolls. The boy said it would be right out. And then the man asked if he could get a Diet Coke as well. The boy said they didn't serve Diet Coke, just Pepsi products. The man was fine with this and carried about his lunch. After a little bit of time the man was greeted with an ice cold Diet Coke. The man said "I thought you didn't carry Diet Coke." The boy said "We don't, but they have it at the convenience store across the street". The man asked who went and got it because the boy was way too busy and boy replied "My Manager."

There are so many great things about this story. Most people would have said "Why should I have to get a Diet Coke when we have Pepsi?" or "Why should I serve that man, he isn't sitting in my area?" or "Why are we so short staffed?" The boy didn't say any of those things, he just acted. He did what it took to make the customer happy, true customer service. Aside from the outstanding customer service from the boy, I also want to mention the manager. The manager is a true leader. He let his employees make the decision and then he acted. This is a fantastic sign of a successful organization."

I really like that story. QBQ! is about personal accountability. If you ask the right questions you will ultimately be more efficient. If you ask the wrong questions you lean toward gossip and the "blame game." Now, watch this video of John G. Miller speaking at several organizations. Please take the time to watch the whole thing, lots of great ideas here. The key is Personal Accountability!

I would say the biggest thing I took away from Flipping the Switch was within the portion on Learning. It is really easy to use, what Miller refers to as, Exclusion. Meaning, that you reject someone's ideas from the get-go because of who they are. They might be a child or a rookie within the company or even a family member. Sometimes you think because you have been involved in something for a longer period of time, you have all the basic answers to problems. It may take some deliberate thinking on your part not to dismiss their ideas, but I bet if you do give a listen to even the most novice people they might have the answer you are looking for. And a lot of the time, the best answer lies with the simplest of ideas.

I'm not going to write about every category today because a lot of them are based around some longer stories that taken out of context won't do you much good. However, I encourage you to pick up this book and the previous one if you haven't done so already. Miller is a very bright man and I look forward to reading his next book. As always, if you have any questions on the book don't hesitate to ask. I would be more than happy to help anyone that wants it. 

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