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The Secrets of Consulting: A Guide to Giving and Getting Advice Successfully Paperback – January, 1986
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Author draws his 25 years of experience as a consultant by sharing his wisdom on consulting.
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That being said, if you can get past the errors, the book is AMAZING! Gerald Weinberg not only writes well and invitingly, but also memorably. Who can forget The Law of Raspberry Jam, or The Orange Juice Test?
Even though my "day job" is not currently being a consultant, the advice in here has been useful in so many other aspects of my life. So my advice to you is, get the dead-tree version if the errors are going to bother you, and the Kindle version if you are prepared to live with them. But definitely get a copy in some form!
I can give you the book in a nutshell--"all problems are people problems". Everything you need to know about consulting (and for that matter, full time employment) cascades from that fact.
The author gives actionable advice drawn from years and years of experience.
If you're looking for a book about the nuts and bolts of consulting, this isn't it. If you have that mastered and are looking for a book to help you reach the next level of consulting, buy this book.
Some real time wasters have embittered my reading lately. Let me tell you, a 4.5 rating on Amazon guarantees nothing! Reading The Secrets of Consulting was not a time waster. I rate it as 4 stars.
One principle that came out of it can work for some business types. The man with the orange juice request was looking for one answer: "Yes, we can do it, here's the price". If the manager would have said they can't do it, or he can do it at no extra charge, that wouldn't have worked. Services should be available at an expense.
Weindberg explains trade offs this way. If your client wants it faster or larger, give it to them, but the trade off will be a higher price. Many times clients want everything and they want it now at the best quality. This principle helps me remember what is possible, and negotiations to make it worthwhile.
There were plenty of good principles in this readable book. Weinberg is a technical consultant with a strong taste for principles and illustrations. However, if I were to rethink the title to help my colleagues understand it's usefulness in the workplace, it might be: Wisdom and Influence in the Workplace.
Loved the style of amusing named anecdotes with sticky names like 'Rudy's Rutabaga Rule' OR Boulding's backward basis. I'm sure I'll be suffering from Main's Maxim a lot less :)
Takeaways for me: Consulting/helping someone is not as much a matter of being rational as it is of being reasonable. This book throws the spotlight on the people aspect.. Observation, History, gaining and keeping Trust, Overcoming change and resistance have nothing to do with technology. These are essential skills.
All in all: This book is a keeper ; Considering the 30-50 years of consulting experience... this book is worth the price many times over. Definite recommendation. Wish I had read this much much earlier.
Nitpick: I've the Kindle eBook. Although the book has a TOC, the Goto TOC option is disabled. You can workaround this by placing a bookmark..