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The Secrets of Consulting: A Guide to Giving and Getting Advice Successfully Paperback – January, 1986

4.5 out of 5 stars 58 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 228 pages
  • Publisher: Dorset House Publishing; 1st edition (January 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0932633013
  • ISBN-13: 978-0932633019
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #175,634 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is a little book with some big messages. As the subtitle says, it's a book not only for those who give, or sell, their advice, but it's also for those who are taking or buying it. It's a book both for those who help to manage change, and for those undergoing change themselves. Many people should read it.
That said, the main focus of the book is on those who produce the advice and ideas. If you are a consultant as I am, this may be one of the most important books in your collection. I have read it cover to cover twice, and parts of it many other times.
The book is written with a light, humorous touch, illustrated both with many funny stories and some very apt cartoons and quotations. From each discussion he abstracts multiple "laws" and reminders, which on their own should prompt you to remember the key points he discusses.
Weinberg doesn't pull any of his punches. Consulting is hard, and the secrets are guides to improving your success and survival rate, not any set of "magic wands". He addresses ways in which you can fail just as much as ways to succeed.
In successive chapters, the book deals with the nature of consulting and the problems it can address, and how to develop your own mind so that your can see the problems and come up with possible solutions to them.
Throughout, Weinberg teaches us to focus on the "people" problems: cultural, political and psychological, which tend to be at the heart of any issue, assuming that, as he says, "it's always a people problem". If you can solve the people problems, the practical problems should be easy by comparison.
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Format: Paperback
I'm having to order another copy of Secrets of Consulting because I lent the last one to a friend, and it's never come back home. There's a reason for that. This is the kind of book that people borrow, but never want to part with again.
A lot of consulting books are filled with fluff, common sense advice that you already know, or only ONE good thought in 250 pages. In 17 years of consulting, however, I've never found a better guide to solving the REAL business problems that you'll encounter. (And it's useful for more than just consultants, too.) Weinberg gets his message across in simple, memorable anecdotes that I can recite perfectly, fifteen years after I first read the book: The Orange Juice Rule, Rudy's Rutabaga Rule.
Here's one fer-instance. A client says that he wants something special done in a project you've already budgeted and possibly already started. Do you tell her "no way!" and lose the business? Do you do the extra work, grumbling about it (and maybe losing money on the deal)? Or do you apply the Orange Juice Rule? (You don't think I'll give away the answer, do ya?) I can't tell you how often I've applied the Orange Juice Rule and saved my business relationship as well as my own budget.
Besides, this book is just plain fun to read. It's light enough to be entertaining, but his advice will help you run your business better... for several years.
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Format: Paperback
What exactly is consulting? And how does one consult successfully? This informative book attempts to answer these questions in a humorous, easy-to-read style. Throughout this book, Weinberg introduces and explains dozens of consulting laws, rules, and principles - and right from the start, with his laws of consulting laid out, you will be captivated by Weinberg's philosophy:

The First Law of Consulting: In spite of what your client may tell you, there's always a problem.
The Second Law of Consulting: No matter how it looks at first, it's always a people problem.
The Third Law of Consulting: Never forget they're paying you by the hour, not by the solution.
The Fourth Law of Consulting: If they didn't hire you, don't solve their problem.

Some of my many favorite laws, rules, and principles:

The Bolden Rule: If you can't fix it, feature it.
The Lone Ranger Fantasy: When the clients don't show their appreciation, pretend that they're stunned by your performance - but never forget that it's your fantasy, not theirs.
Marvin's Second Great Secret: Repeatedly curing a system that can cure itself will eventually create a system that can't.

Have you seen the new poster that reads "Consulting: If you're not a part of the solution, there's good money to be made in prolonging the problem."? Weinberg would not agree with this statement - his Sixth Law of Pricing says that if they don't like your work, don't take their money. An alternative to these types of posters? Blow up the cartoon illustrations in this book and hang them in your office.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I picked up this book when I was thinking of becoming a full-time, free-lance consultant. Even though consulting clients will probably occupy only part of my time in the near future, I still find this book very useful.

Being a successful consultant, according to Weinberg, essentially means learning to deal with a couple of inescapable elements of every business: irrationality and change.

Consulting is hard because clients are not acting rationally. They will have a problem but will never admit it, and the problem is always a people problem, no matter how technical it might seem at first. These two facts are so well established that Weinberg labels them as The First - and respectively, The Second - Law of Consulting.

This is one of the features of the book: lots of hard-learned facts are distilled into succinct - and at times pithy - laws, principles and rules. In order to make it easy to remember them, they are given fanciful names like Rudy's Rutabaga Rule or The Titanic Effect.

Weinberg's advice is not to try to be rational at all costs, and don't force clients to admit their problems and fears. Consultants should be reasonable rather rational, cultivate a paradoxical frame of mind and help clients solve their problems by themselves.

Consulting is also mainly about change: A consultant will be called in either to foster or to prevent change. Clients will typically be stuck in a troublesome situation and will need someone to jiggle them in order to become unstuck. A good consultant will need to learn how to amplify his own impact in order to act effectively on a client's organization, which is much bigger than him and with much more inertia.
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