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Secrets of Consulting review


The setup

I like to improve, I like to keep getting better at what I do. To keep myself on this track, one of the things I realized long time I ago is that I need to know where my faults and weaknesses are. And when I realize where my deficiencies are, I try, albeit slowly, to improve them. In the software industry, software isn’t usually the problem, people are. As a consultant this is your main concern. And because I have some failings around this area (you can call me introvert), there is work for me to do to improve. As part of the plan to improve, I read Secrets of Consulting by Gerald Weinberg. As I just finished the book, I wanted to do a quick review of it.

The core

The book has two main components: the rules and the explanation of the rules.

The rules are scattered through the book, most of them are descriptive enough to remember what they are about. The explanation of the rules has two (possible) parts: There is always a story that leads to the rule being introduced; Sometimes there is further talk about the rule or how it interacts with other rules. In a few cases this leads to an additional rule. This format stays through the whole book.

Some of the rules are things I already knew (without those names/phrasing), others I did not know at all, and there was another group of rules that were lightning bulbs in my head (“oooohh, this explains that behaviour that time”).

I think that all the information presented in the book is useful … insightful, in fact. It is a book that I need to re-read slowly to make sure that I understand and internalize the information present.

The style

Nearly all the book is written using anecdotes from his (the author) past. To be frank, I thought that most of them were made up, but probably with a kernel of truth in them; maybe due to the fact that they are quite streamlined. Some of the stories are amusing, leaning towards funny, with no real cringe moments. The prose is fluid, easy to follow, with no highfalutin words (unlike what I just did). I don’t think anyone will be stuck on this book. It is, indeed, a quite enjoyable book to read.

The impression

I think this a must-read book, but not only for consultants: team leaders, project managers, … anyone can benefit from the information and the rules being exposed here.

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