Consulting is the art of influencing people at their request.Secrets of Consulting page v
When I first started doing consulting, I thought that most problems were technical. Boy was I wrong! I quickly learned that most problems are not technical, but are people problems. If I would have read “Secrets of Consulting” at the beginning of my solo career, I would have realized that even sooner and saved myself a lot of problems by applying the various principals.
Gerald Weinberg has a background both as a psychologist and as a technology consultant. That makes him uniquely qualified to comment on the often confusing relationship between consultant and client. The apparent paradoxes in that relationship along with Gerald’s sense of humor make for very interesting reading.
In an effort to make his ideas more memorable and to appease his own sense of humor, all of Gerald’s principals have very colorful names. All of them are also tied to very colorful stories that illustrate the principles. Here are just a few examples of the principals. If you want the full stories, you have to read the book. You should anyway, you won’t regret it.
Law of Raspberry Jam
The wider you spread it, the thinner it gets.The Law Of Raspberry Jam
The law of raspberry jam is about trading influence for affluence. The most influence you can have over someone is working directly one on one with them. However, there is a limit to what a single customer will pay. So you organize a course with 10 customers. Each client pays less and you make more money. However, your influence diminishes because it’s not as personal and you can’t spend as much time with each client.
Influence x Affluence = ConstantA succint form of the Law Of Raspberry Jam. Influence and affluence are inversely proportional. As one goes up, the other goes down.
Orange Juice Test
We can do it – and this is how much it will cost.The Orange Juice Test
The Orange Juice Test is all about dealing with customer demands. When the customer makes a demand, the consultant should always answer “We can do it – and this is how much it will cost“. Any consultant who simply answers no, or agrees to the demand without adding any cost, fails the test. If you want the full story you will have to read the book.
You can make a buffalo go anywhere just so long as they want to go there.The Buffalo Bridle
The Buffalo Bridle is about motivating people and guiding them through changes. People, like buffalo, are naturally stubborn. If you want them to do something, you better provide some incentive or frame it in a way that makes them see that their interests align with yours.