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Gerald M. Weinberg (Jerry) writes "nerd novels," such as The Aremac Project, Aremac Power, First Stringers, Second Stringers, The Hands of God, Freshman Murders, and Mistress of Molecules—about how brilliant people produce quality work. His novels may be found as eBooks at or on Kindle. Before taking up his science fiction career, he published books on human behavior, including Weinberg on Writing: The Fieldstone Method, The Psychology of Computer Programming, Perfect Software and Other Fallacies, and an Introduction to General Systems Thinking. He also wrote books on leadership including Becoming a Technical Leader, The Secrets of Consulting (Foreword by Virginia Satir), More Secrets of Consulting, and the four-volume Quality Software Management series. He incorporates his knowledge of science, engineering, and human behavior into all of writing and consulting work (with writers, hi-tech researchers, and software engineers). Early in his career, he was the architect for the Mercury Project's space tracking network and designer of the world's first multiprogrammed operating system. Winner of the Warnier Prize and the Stevens Award for his writing on software quality, he is also a charter member of the Computing Hall of Fame in San Diego and the University of Nebraska Hall of Fame. The book, The Gift of Time (Fiona Charles, ed.) honors his work for his 75th birthday. His website and blogs may be found at http://www.geraldmweinberg.com.
on Dec. 04, 2011 :
I have read the "Secrets of Consulting" so the natural, next step is to take this one. This volume contains 167 pages (ebook version), and is like all Jerry’s books well written with lots of humour. The first time read this book I had this feeling I was turning the pages to fast. So after a few weeks I decided to read it again. A good decision.
Jerry offers you a toolkit, full of metaphors. I like metaphors, I can remember them better.
For me personally the best metaphors are;
The Lump Law,
The Courage Stick,
The Wishing Wand,
The Yes/No Medallion.
Thank you Jerry for sharing.
(reviewed long after purchase)
on Sep. 04, 2011 :
It isn't many times that I nod my head and say "yes" when reading through a book, I did this multiple times with Jerry Weinbergs "More Secrets of consulting". This book is required reading for a consultant simply because the topics that Jerry tackles in this book are essential for any Consultant to be effective, yet there is a scarcity of books out there which venture into this territory. Many times when reading through this book, I found myself thinking - "damn, he has a cam into my working life" and in many ways this is true as the work Jerry has done and the advice he gives is shaped from real life situations and he isn't afraid of tackling the difficult topics and offering his advice and expertise to help consultants, both young and experienced.
How can a consultant make sure he negotiates a good contract?
How can a consultant deal with a situation thats fraught with confusion when he first enters into it, which is most new assignments, if we are honest.
How can someone conquer his own fear, what is fear anyway?
How to get the consultant in touch with his own goals and vision - when many a time, a consultant is more focussed on the client than himself and may not have this vision?
These are some of the interesting questions posed and answered in Jerry's book.
This is practical advice for working consultants, to tackle the thorniest issues they face when consulting with clients. And in many cases, the analysis Jerry offers of the situation comes from a place of deeply observing his clients, situations and analysing them with great expertise. Its not knowledge and analysis thats easy to come by and for a working consultant, this can save time and money, lots of it.
Jerry's writing style uses stories and parables to get the points across in his book which are very effective but need repeated study to uncover the deeper layers of these techniques. The writing style took me a bit of time getting used to since its such a personal voice and Jerry talks with stories and anecdotes instead of bulleted lists (popular in today's blog culture), but thats a part of the effectiveness of the book since it hides many layers that become clearer in the second and third readings and with the
growth and maturity of the consultant.
These tools, or a personalized version of this toolbox should be a part of any working consultant's toolkit. This is material that explores ground far beyond the tactics of "how to put together a presentation" or "data analysis and presentation". Also, the tools that Jerry shares with us are very practical and instantly applicable to any situation.
For example, one of my favourite tools in the book is the courage stick, which reminds us that we have the courage to try new things and to risk failure. Jerry then goes on to discuss what fear is and the role it plays in consulting including using the very memorable acronym "Fantasy Experienced As Reality" for FEAR, and thinking about it, thats exactly what fear is! Every working consultant who wants to be successful has to overcome fear and try new things as a part of his work to grow and deliver results. The rest of the chapter goes deeper into this concept and as with every single tool in this book, I came away with things I could apply immediately and lots to consider and digest.
After reading this book, I went out and got a few more of his books around consulting including "the secrets of consulting" and "becoming a technical leader". And surprisingly, Jerry has been able to come up with several volumes of original material around the art of leadership and consulting.
A thoroughly enjoyable and recommended read and begs to be read not once, but twice and slower each time.
(reviewed long after purchase)
on March 04, 2011 :
Early on, Jerry goes into a description of some of his most famous laws, specifically the law of Raspberry and Strawberry Jam, and then put's a new one in, the Law of Grape Jelly. His point is that while the raspberry jam and the grape jelly can be spread forever to the point where they lose their taste (and with the opinion that Grape Jelly never had much taste to begin with) Strawberry Jam is stubbornly un-spreadable. Chunks remain and will not break down and spread. His point in More Secrets of Consulting is that the chunks are the human element, the actual people that do the work and give the message. It's the humanity of the message, and thus, More Secrets of Consulting was geared towards providing that humanity and liking consultants to become more "Strawberry like". Yes, I just made that comparison, Jerry makes them a lot. If you can't tolerate a bit of hokey, this book is going to irritate you. If you can tolerate a little hokey and actually find it endearing, I think you'll love this book :).
There are various tools that are discussed in each chapter, and how Jerry uses those tools to help him become more effective in the role he plays as a consultant. This is valuable information to everyone in the job market today, and who will ever be in the job market. At the end of the day, most of us are consultants in one way or another. We provide a certain level of skill and expertise to help solve a variety of problems. Thus, if you think that you are not the target audience for this book, guess again!
There are various metaphors and objects used throughout the book, including "The Wisdom Box", "The Golden Key", "The Golden Lock", "The Yes/No Medallion", "The Wishing Wand", "The Telescope", The Fish Eye Lens", "The Oxygen Mask" and other items that are supported throughout the text as tools that a consultant needs. Ultimately, what you will discover as you read this book is that the tools to use are an exceptionally well tuned common sense, a focus on street smarts, a little bit of technical knowledge, and a whole lot of discernment.
Also, there really aren't any Secrets. There is a lot of planning, hard work, moral fiber, and guiding principles that need to be reviewed and applied regularly. Again, don't be fooled, you do not need to be a consultant to find value in this book. All of these tools are vital for anyone to have in their work-a-day tool chest. Notice, each and every tool is an internal attribute. Much like Steven Covey's guiding philosophy, Jerry looks at the internal character of the individual as the guiding and telling component. All of the tools described help to support that focus, that of helping to develop and build the inner character of the individual. there are no slick techniques presented here, no formulaic negotiation tactics. there is a lot of focus on personal preparation and integrity.
More Secrets owes a debt to who Weinberg feels deserves much of the credit for many of the ideas, Virginia Satir. Her names is mentioned often in many of the chapters, and many quotes are attributed directly to her. There are also many other quotes and memorable passes associated with other authors and individuals. Some memorable ones that ring through the text:
* The Mercenary Maxim: "One of the best ways to lose lots of money is to do something only for the money."
* Dani's Decider: "When you stop learning new things, it's time to move on."
* The Detective's Fourth Rule: "If you can't understand where the questions are coming from, they're probably coming from an agenda someone doesn't want you to know about."
* The Parallel Paradox: "If you're too much like your clients, you don't attract them; if you're too different, you frighten them away."
The Original Secrets of Consulting is high on my list of titles to read, especially now that I've read "More Secrets" before I read the main book. In the Introduction, Jerry says that it is not required that the reader have gone through "Secrets of…" to be able to receive profitably the message inside of "More Secrets…". I've found much to ponder and find interesting in this book. Some may say that there is a bit of a self-promotion aspect to the book, and hey, why should that come as a surprise to anyone? It's Jerry's work and ideas, and hey, as a consultant himself, of course he's going to hawk his own ideas from time to time. Still, even with all of that, "More Secrets of Consulting" is a gem of a book, and remarkably quick reading (my Smashwords copy comes to 165 pages). Needless to say, a single read through will not impart all the wisdom and experience of this book, but there's much to ponder, and it's my hope I'll be able to put much of this in practice in my most recent venture. Perhaps a year from now, I'll be able to come back and see how well I did :).
(reviewed within a month of purchase)