Thursday, May 20, 2010

favorite lines from More Secrets of Consulting by Gerald Weinberg

Sometimes I wonder whether these kinds of posts annoy my readers or not--but since this blog is equally for the author as for readers, I opt to include it. I like to attribute ideas to their sources whenever possible, and every once in a while I want to look things up that I've forgotten. I often can do a keyword search on this blog, and turn up the title of the book and even a bit more context--it may be enough to jar my memory, or from this I can more readily locate the correct section in the book itself, since I've dog-eared and underlined the same things I mention here.

First off, I have to say that I find Weinberg's Secrets of Consulting books thought-provoking yet too informal. He's a story teller, and gives crazy names to all his secrets--this is probably one of his undocumented secrets, in fact, since names like the "law of raspberry jam" have left a visual image in my brain that quickly brings up his lesson. I like easy to read books, but I like them to be more direct. On the other hand, if it weren't for all these stories, it's possible I'd learn less from what he wrote.

This second book builds upon the memory tricks by recommending we build a "consultant's kit" that includes over a dozen physical objects that will help us remember what to do when we have a problem:
  • the golden key: we have the power to unlock more doors for us than anyone else / "when you stop learning, it's time to move on" / "there are many ways to put people to sleep with words" so sometimes the best thing to do is stop talking, or listen beyond lullaby words / you've never tried X, or don't know anything about X "up until now"
  • the courage stick: when we're afraid, find something we're even more afraid of to get us moving / "the key moment in a relationship occurs when one or both [people] feel there's something that can't be talked about" and then he pictures what happened to people that didn't talk about the taboo subject / "whatever the client is doing, advise something else" / Loftus' Law: "some people manage by the book, even though they don't know who wrote the book or even which book it is"
  • the wishing wand: it's best to let people around us know exactly what we want, because then there's a chance they can give it to us; don't filter--leave that for negotiations later
  • the detective hat / magnifying glass: we need to see the data ourselves, not just the conclusions our customers have made / don't be mesmerized by the first problem you find / the closer you get to the culprit, the less likely you are to get the answer / use their questions as information
  • the yes/no medallion: it's important to be able to say no if it's not a good deal for you / sometimes we can say no by thanking people for their invitation, then saying it's not the right fit at this time
  • the heart: "if someone requires you to die trying to help them, you don't want to help them" / if you get involved in projects that require your mercy to succeed, they're not likely to succeed anyway
  • the mirror: why am I here? / how do I feel about that? / what do I want to happen? / feedback is a reminder, not a reproach (everyone is always trying to be helpful)
  • the telescope: zooms in on how other people are doing / center yourself; empathize; pivot
  • the fish-eye lens: look at the context / "the fish is always the last to see the water" / listen to the music, rather than the client's words
  • the gyroscope: "if you want to stay single, look for the perfect mate" / you can't be perfectly rational, congruent, or consistent! / trust your body, then your brain / "a professional is someone who does a good job even when he doesn't feel like it"--but excellence only comes when we're really on / Qualified-but-Quiet Quandry: the more you ask for help, the less you'll get stuck--but it's hard to ask for help when people think you're the expert!
  • the egg: we can always grow & try new things
  • the carabiner: find ways to make safe experiments, where failure is OK, and even expected as a sign of creativity and growth
  • the feather: keep it light! being too serious inhibits our creativity. play! don't make such a big deal of things, because in the grand scheme of things, the universe doesn't really change
  • the hourglass: why do we never have the time to do it right, but enough time to do it over?
  • the oxygen mask: competence can lead to burnout / this is about breathing and vitality--energy--a balanced and energetic life

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