# Consulting

The Secrets of Consulting - A Guide to Giving and Getting Advice Successfully By Gerald M. Weinberg Read on July 2019Rating: 8 / 10

The book gives a good overview of what it means to be a consultant and the skills needed to give advice to your clients. It discusses in details the necessary attitudes and analytical methods to define problems and solve them. It also highlights how people typically deal with change and different strategies to successfully start a change process. Towards the end of the book the author shares how consultants should market themselves, price their services and win their client trust.

Overall it was a good read, however the style of writing wasn’t the easiest for me to follow.

Here are some of my notes:

  • People find it difficult to admit there is a problem and refuse to take responsibility as it threatens their competency.
  • Big sudden changes are not welcomes.
  • Whatever the client is doing, advise something else.
  • Don’t care who gets the credit.
  • People are ready for advise only when they ask for it.
  • The more scale in terms of people you achieve the lower the magnitude of your service.
  • Most of the time nothing significant change.
  • Second order thinking is critical since resolving most critical problem uncover the second critical problem.
  • Accepting failure mindset
  • Problems never finish
  • Always highlight the tradeoffs and let them decide
  • The better adapted you are, the less adaptable you tend to be.
  • Establish trust by recommending low risk alternatives first
  • Always point out the price of solving the problem, even if its really hard problem with a really high price.
  • Complex systems sometimes just cure themselves.
  • If it aint broke, don’t fix it.
  • Make sure they pay you enough so they’ll do what you say
  • Know-when is much more valuable than know-how.
  • Its not a bug, its a feature.
  • Specialist always have a limited view point
  • Same solutions = same results
  • Learn the history to understand better why something is the way it is.
  • Things are the way they are because they got that way
  • Avoid asking who created the problem.
  • Study for understanding, not for criticism.
  • Complement the current situation.
  • Align the way you dress up with the message you want to deliver.
  • Look for the principles underlying the facts.
  • People tend to know the solution and share it quickly, its the execution that they struggle with.
  • Fear sometimes work as a catalyst for small changes.
  • We find it difficult to see what is missing due to human bias.
  • Aim for collaborative meetings with no 1-dominant person.
  • Every process/checklist has to include a couple of unreasonable items.
  • Borrow ideas from other systems, Biology, Psychology, engineering, etc..
  • Develop tools to help you look for things that are missing from the picture.
  • Trust your intuition when something doesn’t make sense.
  • Unthinkable disasters (black swan events) do happen and must be prepared for.
  • When dealing with implementing processes or new systems, look for triggers to ensure the processes are followed.
  • Problem prevention is always desired over problem solving.
  • One of the tasks of a consultant is helping organizations get their systems unstuck.
  • People tend to see a part of the whole and identifies the whole with that part.
  • Seeing feelings is more important than seeing thoughts.
  • The less you actually intervene, the better you feel about your work.
  • One of the tasks of a consultant is helping solving problems in such a way that in the future it is more likely to be solved by the organisation without any external help.
  • First steps include help people to see their world more clearly and then to let them decide what to do next.
  • Your methods are always open for discussion with your clients.
  • Being in an environment long enough affects you whether you like it or not.
  • Give your customers what they want not what you think is best.
  • A small system that tries to change a big system through long and continued contact is more likely to be changed itself.
  • Minor differences add up quickly and suddenly there is a bigger difference.
  • People make better decisions when they have skin in the game.
  • As people grow older, they learn about how change works, which could easily cause them to be discouraged.
  • Avoid introducing too many new things at the same time to a system.
  • New things seldomly work the first time, so failure is inevitable.
  • Accepting failure is extremely important.
  • Improvement is easter than perfection.
  • Consider how your new system might fail and create a backup.
  • New things require time to work properly, however people always seem to be in a hurry to get new things working.
  • When you create an illusion, to prevent or soften change, the change becomes more likely - and hard to take.
  • When difficult changes being, truth is always a scarce commodity.
  • Resistance is good to test ideas.
  • You can’t force anyone to do anything or avoid anything unless they have the desire themselves.
  • Ask - what they don’t want to happen & if we can change one thing, which one would make main difference to you?
  • Most of resistance comes form uncertainty
  • Insurance against the risks are always helpful to reduce resistance.
  • Its hard to resist when nobody is pushing
  • The best way to get clients is to have clients
  • Spend at least one day a week getting exposure
  • Diversify your client portfolio
  • Best marketing tool is a satisfied client.
  • Give away your best ideas
  • Allow one-fourth of your time to doing random things
  • The more they pay you, the more they love you
  • Price is not a zero-sum game, think of value generation for both parties.
  • If they don’t like your work, don’t take their money
  • All prices are ultimately based on feelings, both yours and theirs.
  • Trust takes years to win, moments to lose.
  • Avoid all tricks if you want to win trust
  • People are never liars - in their own eyes.
  • Never be dishonest, even if the client requests it
  • Never promise anything and if you promise something, keep your promise.
  • Get all agreements in writing, always