As part of my quest to become a better consultant I am reading Gerald M. Weinberg's book Secrets of Consulting: A Guide to Giving and Getting Advice Successfully . It is quite controversial and provocative book. At the same time Weinberg shares real world practices that help folks in the field like myself coping with tough situations. It helps to avoid being eaten alive.It also entertaining and sometimes cynical which only teaches you to not take life too seriously, otherwise you will never get alive out of it. Weinberg shares his story in form of laws. Here are three first laws of consulting by Gerald M. Weinberg.
The First Law Of Consulting
"In spite of what your client may tell you, there's always a problem."
This must be a daily mantra for any consultant. Problems are consultant's bread. I think one of the greatest skills consultant should possess is seeing problems everywhere (read "opportunities"). Sometimes these problems ("opportunities") are latent. Consultant's job is to discover it and present it to the stakeholder in such manner so there is no way other than hiring you to solve it. If the consultant discovered fake latent problem she won't be hired again. If the consultant discovered real latent problem and even showed the way to solve it then the consultant's brand gets stronger and she gets more gigs.
Consultant, search for real latent problems.
The Second Law Of Consulting
"No Matter how it looks at first, it's always a people problem."
This reminds me a story, my colleague consultant told me yesterday. He was involved with a 6 months project. The project's only goal was improving performance of a software. After few quick researches he solved the problem presenting the whole management and engineering team with the solution. Success? Far from it. He became a center of cross fire:
- The engineering team was mad at him - "Now what we are going to do for the last 5 months? They surely going to fire us all".
- The management was mad at him too - "We have the budget for 6 months. What are we going to do with it? It sourly going to be taken back now...".
It is always people problem...
The Third Law Of Consulting
"Never forget they're paying you by the hour, not by the solution".
Mister Weinberg, you are absolutely right! But I am on my quest to break this law. I truly believe that the better option is productized service. Why? Here is why:
- It is easy to sell (eliminate time for sales ceremonies).
- It is easy to buy (the customer buys end result, not consultant's hours).
- It is easy to deliver (doing same thing is easier than making up new thing each time).
I witness more and more customers are willing to pay for end result vs. consultant hours.
- Two Crucial Lessons Every Consultant Must Learn First
- Seven Characteristics Of High Performing Consultant
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