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The Secrets of Consulting by Gerald M. Weinberg

2014-09-21 - Thomas Queste

Book cover

The book "Secrets of Consulting" by Weinberg stayed for years on my shelve. I finally found why I did not read it just after I bought it, but why I should have read it before.

The book is about how to work effectively with customers as a consultant. As such, there are topics on changes, pitfalls, problems detection and prevention, but also on personal marketing and pricing.

At the end (~10-15 hours of reading), I still have a mixed feeling about the book. At first, the chapters seem very interesting with subjects on real problems, like how to deal with resistance and avoiding traps ; subjects you have to be good at. But part of the content is blurred in "laws" which either make sense or are hard to get. An example of a good one is "Change comes from stability".

This is the spirit of the book: telling stories (true ones?), enumerating laws (5 to 10 per chapters) and no summary. At the end of some chapters, I was a bit advanced on the subject or deeply lost (moment like "what the heck? what can I use now?")

Gerald Weinberg is a great story teller. His human skills seems impressive and I would pay to see him in action. There are stories that will make you laugh, and some good examples of human tricks (for example: how he deals with a guy always telling "it won't work, we already tried that").

I would have preferred chapters to be a bit more detailed, or maybe more precise. Don't expect recipes and bullet points. It is more about stories and broad ideas.

Maybe the underlying idea of Weinberg was not to provide common sense, but instead make you think deeply (hence the paradoxical laws) and to "plant the seed" which will make you a better consultant (chapter 14 is about farming... yes, plant/seed/soil).

Written by:

Thomas Queste