Thursday, December 24, 2009

Jerry Weinberg's The Secrets of Consulting

This book is a collection of stories and memorable rules... it is unlike anything I've read before, and is hard to absorb in one stretch--I'll probably have to go back to the "listing of laws, rules, and principles" to jar my memory every once in a while. Yet one of the beauties of Weinberg's storytelling ability is that the names quickly bring me back to the story, then back to the lesson.
So, this book says it's about consulting, but he has a very loose definition of the word--consulting is giving advice. The most important thing I got from Weinberg is to never, ever give unsolicited advice. Then, even when asked for advice, it's best not to respond directly, but rather help the person discover it him/herself.
I love his names, like Rudy's Rudebega Rule, the Law of Raspberry Jam, his insistence that as a consultant, he plays more of a role of being illogical, funny, unpredictable than anything else... He seems to have great facilitation skills, great timing "know when pays more than know how". There have been several things I do as a coach that are supported by his rules. I'll list my favorite rules below:
  • the First Law of Consulting--there always is 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--if you solve the problem too fast, it's going to be embarrassing
  • the Fourth Law of Consulting--"if they didn't hire you, don't fix their problem"
  • the Orange Juice test--"we can do it, and here is how much it will cost"
  • Brown's Brilliant Bequest--listen to the music and the words
  • the Buffalo Bridle--you can make 'em go anywhere, as long as they want to be there
  • the Credit Rule--don't worry about who gets the credit
  • the Duncan Hines Difference--it tastes better if you add your own egg
  • the First Law of Trust--"no one but you cares about the reason you let them down"
  • the Fourth Law of Trust--"the trick of earning trust is to avoid all tricks"
  • the Five Minute Rule--"clients reveal the answer to their own problem in the first five minutes"
  • the Ten Percent Solution Law--"if you happen to achieve more than ten percent improvement, make sure it isn't noticed"

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