The Secrets of Consulting - Gerald Weinberg

Weinberg describes consulting as the art of influencing people at their request. Emphasis on the last three words. A point he drives home multiple times throughout the book. We either have a specific request for help or we don’t. When the request is missing, chances are we can’t help. An example.

If we are hired to help a team develop software as an additional programmer (staff augmentation) we won’t have lots of success if we try to change the organisation while doing that.

We were hired as an additional worker, not to conduct the agile transformation. In short one should not attempt to solve problems he was not hired to solve. Chances are it won’t work. The frustration and unnecessary work is bad for both health and bank account.

Three laws of consulting

These laws are probably well known. Even to some who have not read the book.

  1. In spite of what the client might tell you, there’s always a problem
  2. No matter how it looks at first, it’s always a people problem
  3. Never forget they’re paying you by the hour, not by the solution

Might seem cynic at first.

Give it some time.

On Compensation

The book contains lots of examples about compensation where it boils down to:

The less they pay you, the less they respect you.

Why? Because if your rate is high it would be a waste of money to pay you that much and then not listen to your suggestions. It is easier for the mind to not visit the gym for which you pay $20 a month compared to the one where you pay $100.

When you ask for what you think you’re worth and your prospects tell you the fee is too expensive, you can be sure that they won’t respect you if you come down to their price.

On Learning

A brilliant example is the Orange Juice Test to find the right consultants. The ones able to solve problems.

Another remarkable way to find out how sure people are of the statements they make is the Weinberg Test. It contains the following questions:

The severity goes down each question. Often people are not confident enough to risk even $10 thus it’s quickest to start with that one.