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.