In the many workshops I've facilitated over the years, this scene has played out over and over again. I'll ask, "What's the critical issue facing your organization today?" Generally, the answer is not change or competition, but communication. Then it's framed like this: "Why don't they communicate better?"Ha ha, whee!
Actually, communication means not only being understood but also understanding the other person. The QBQ is "How can I better understand you?"
There's not really much to say about this, unless I'm mistaken. Miller seems to have been a bit cranky when he wrote it, but the central point is fine, I guess; if you're trying to work with someone, you have to make yourself understood to them and you have to make sure you're understanding them also. Fine, whatever. I hate to think of human communication, expression, and life reduced to this kind of utilitarianism, especially in the interest of wage slavery, and I'm tempted to bring up Hugo Ball for the second time in two days, but again: whatever.
One thing I would like to mention, though, is that it's occurring to me how ironic it is for Miller to have named his book and concept "The Question Behind the Question," because he himself seems to be completely unable to peel back even the most superficial of layers to look underneath. I gather that the workshops he mentions having facilitated are sometimes made up of managers, sometimes of low-level employees, and sometimes a mix. In each of these groups, there are very good reasons why no one will mention the real "critical issue" facing them, and will instead go for things like "communication" or "competition" or "change."
This critical issue, of course, is the system of top-down exploitation in which everyone finds themselves, at one point in the heirarchy or another. In a group of managers, no one will mention this because their continued ability to function (under the demands of both their jobs and their consciences) depends on not acknowledging this system. In a group of workers or a mixed group, of course no one will mention this because if they do they put their jobs in jeopardy (and, more immediately, they're probably thinking that the less waves they make, the faster the damn workshop will be over with). Now, not every worker will think to put it in these terms, but all of their genuine concerns, what they will really be thinking when they say communication or competition or change is the big problem--insufficient pay, shitty or no benefits, meager or no vacation and sick time, unequal pay for equal work, what have you--will always be an aspect of this larger problem.
Miller, of course, does not realize that this is what is going on--that people are lying to him--because his job depends on not realizing it.
QBQ! Table of contents