Clippings from The Secrets of Consulting


  • nowadays, nearly everyone is some kind of a consultant.
  • My definition of consulting is the art of influencing people at their request.
    • People want some sort of change—or fear some sort of change—so they seek consulting, in one form or another.
    • you become a consultant whenever you accept someone's request for influence.
    • few people request influence when their world is behaving rationally.
  • Become rational about irrationality.


  • The secrets of consulting are basically what growth, competence, and good human relations are about

Chapter 1. Why Consulting Is So Tough

  • The Number One Secret:

    Consulting ain't as easy as it looks.


    1. In spite of what your client may tell you, there's always a problem.
    2. No matter how it looks at first, it's always a people problem.
    3. Never forget they're paying you by the hour, not by the solution
    • There's Always a Problem
      • In the culture of management, the worst thing you can do is admit to anyone that you have a problem you can't handle by yourself.
      • If you really do need help, you have to sneak it in somehow without admitting in public that there is any problem at all.
      • Corollary: The Ten Percent Promise

        Never promise more than ten percent improvement.

        • If you promise too much improvement, they'll never hire you, because that would force them to admit they had a problem.
      • Corollary: The Ten Percent Solution

        If you happen to achieve more than ten percent improvement, make sure it isn't noticed.

        • The best way to make sure it isn't noticed, of course, is to help the client take all the credit.
    • It's Always a People Problem
      • One way for managers to avoid mentioning that they have a problem is to label the problem a "technical problem."
      • Even when it's "really" a technical problem, it can always be traced back to management action or inaction.
        • Even so, the experienced consultant will resist pointing out that it was management who hired all the technical people and is responsible for their development.
        • look for the people who should have prevented this problem, or dealt with it when it arose.
      • Corollary: Marvin's Law

        Whatever the client is doing, advise something else.

        • At the very least, the people problem is either lack of imagination or lack of perspective.
        • People who are close to a problem tend to keep repeating what didn't work the first time.
        • Every hard-working person loses perspective at times
    • Never forget they're paying you by the hour
      • To get paid by the solution, you would first have to get the client to admit that there was a problem, then that the problem was big enough to justify paying you well for solving if
      • Corollary: The Credit Rule

        You'll never accomplish anything if you care who gets the credit

        • In corset for a consultant to get credit, the client would have to admit there had been a solution <- a problem
    • The Fourth Law of Consulting

      If they didn't hire you, don't solve their problem.

      • it usually backfires.

    The wider you spread it, the thinner it gets.

    • it's up to my client to implement the ideas.
    • What I lose in quality, I gain in quantity.
      • I can advise two other people on how to do the job in my absence.
      • Training is merely a cheaper form of consulting.
        • Each participant gets a little less, but the cost goes down, so the market for my message expands.
    • The wider the audience, the more you can make. (The less influence you have on each of them)
    • Influence or affluence; take your choice.

    Most of the time, for most of the world, no matter how hard people work at it, nothing of any significance happens.

    • In other words, for most systems in the world, the best prediction about their behavior in the next instant is just what they were doing in the previous instant.
    • Weinbergs' Law tells them that most of their efforts (to change) will come to naught, even if they only want to change themselves.
    • I can remove one problem that's my worst, but it always leaves another that used to be my second worst.
  • Rudy's Rutabaga Rule:

    Once you eliminate your number one problem, number two gets a promotion.

    • there's always another problem.
  • The Hard Law

    If you can't accept failure, you'll never succeed as a consultant.

    • If you can't accept failure, you'll never succeed as a consultant.
  • The Harder Law

    The ability to find the problem in any situation is the consultant's best asset.

    • you must give up the illusion that you'll ever finish solving problems.
  • The Hardest Law

    Helping myself is even harder than helping others.

    • That's essentially what this book is about.

Chapter 2. Cultivating A Paradoxical Frame Of Mind

  • Consultants deal in change
    • The time people do need a consultant is when logic isn't working. They are stuck.
    • Don't be rational; be reasonable.
    • People who think they know everything's are easiest to fool
    • The businesses of life is too important to be taken seriously
      • Most important things can be explained only in jokes, riddles, and paradoxes.
    • "We must do it in the best possible way." -> "What are you willing to sacrifice?"
    • Tradeoff Charts
      • The tradeoff chart indicates that if you want to run faster, you'll have to restrict yourself to a shorter distance, assuming that all other factors are kept the same.
      • The Tradeoff Treatment: You don't get nothin' for nothin'
      • Optimitis can be a confusing disease because people fail to recognize the limiting nature of the tradeoff chart
    • The Tradeoff Treatment
      • Moving in one direction incurs a cost in the other.
    • Now Versus Later
      • the problem of balancing certainty now versus uncertainty in the future.
      • If I knew for sure what I would need later, there would be no tradeoff problem.
    • Fisher's Fundamental Theorem
      • The better adapted you are, the less adaptable you tend to be.
      • In hiring, older people who are more experienced vs. younger people who may prove more adaptable
        • my bias tends to be toward investing in the future
        • people tend to overestimate the time it takes to acquire a skill
      • Training policies, the same tradeoff (better adapted to present task vs. future tasks)
      • Consultants are less adapted to the present situation, and therefore are potentially more adaptable.
        • Their perception of now/then tradeoffs is different from those close to the problem, which makes them a valuable source of ideas.
    • Risk Versus Certainty

      I toss a coin. If it comes up heads, I give you $2.10. If it comes up tails, I give you nothing. Now, consider how much you would pay to play the game?

    • The Third-Time Charm

      Consultants tend to be most effective on the third problem you give them.

      • By working with a client for an extended period of time, it's possible to establish trust by recommending only low-risk alternatives.
      • This strategy is another now/then tradeoff: small results now for the possibility of bigger results later.
    • The Test for choosing a site for an annual sales convention
      1. accommodating seven hundred people
      2. The founder of your company has established a hallowed tradition for your sales meetings, requiring that each morning's sales breakfast start with a toast to success, using orange juice
      3. The breakfast must start with the ceremony precisely at 7 a.m..
      4. each of the seven hundred people must have a large glass of freshly squeezed orange juice
    • We can do it—and this is how much it will cost.

Chapter 3. Being Effective When You Don't Know What You're Doing

    • The Elephant in the Boardroom
    • Out of Your Depth
      • Three times out of four, consultants find themselves asked to work on problems that aren't really their "specialty."
      • The consultant just looks like a specialist to a nonspecialist.
      • Good consultants are problem-solvers, in addition to being specialists
    1. Ninety percent of all illness cures itself— with absolutely no intervention from the doctor.
      • Deal gently with systems that should be able to cure themselves.
      • If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
    2. Repeatedly curing a system that can cure itself will eventually create a system that can't.
      • Of the ten percent of illnesses that don't cure themselves, penicillin or some other antibiotic handily dispatches another ninety percent
    3. Every prescription has two parts: the medicine and the method of ensuring correct use.
      • Follow up suggestions
      • Don't give up the treatment too soon.
    4. If what they've been doing hasn't solved the problem, tell them to do something else.
      • Don't stick with the treatment too long.
    5. Make sure they pay you enough so they'll do what you say.
      • The most important act in consulting is setting the right fee.
    6. Know-how pays much less than know-when.
      • For a consultant, "clever" behavior is "crazy" behavior done when it works.
    • The Bolden Rule: If you can't fix it, feature it.
    • Featuring Your Own Failures
      • That's one risk of applying The Bolden Rule: People may begin to believe you're perfect (which isn't too bad, as long as you don't start believing it yourself).
    • The Gilded Rule: If you can't feature it, fake it.
      • Because faking always seems so much easier than fixing.
      • Once fakery works, we stop learning how to do real fixery.
    • The Inverse Gilded Rule: If something's faked, it must need fixing.
    • The Gilded Consultant
      • If they (the clients) catch you lying, they'll figure out that you must have something to hide.
      • Even if it merely sounds like you're lying, you're in trouble.

Chapter 4. Seeing What's There


    The child who receives a hammer for Christmas will discover that everything needs pounding.

    • Inventing a Tool to Improve Vision
      • Use of special tools can also cramp your ability to invent new tools on the spot.
      • there are actually simpler tools (than pins and a pinboard) that all consultants can use when they need to see what's there that other people aren't seeing.
    • The Fallacy of the Single Point
    • The White Bread Warning

      If you use the same recipe, you get the same bread

    • Boulding's Backward Basis

      Things are the way they are because they got that way.

      • Studying history is a good way for consultants to see things that others have missed.
        • avoid mistakes
        • capture missed opportunities
        • keep what worked
        • change what had no effect
      • You may have to slow down and listen to a client's long, boring, irrelevant story
    • Sparks's Law of Problem Solution

      The chances of solving a problem decline the closer you get to finding out who was the cause of the problem.

      • The people who were part of the process that produced the problem are still around and will be involved, in one way or another, in the attempts to solve it.
      • If you loudly castigate the people who were responsible for producing the present mess, you may then discover that
        1. There were, at the time, good and sufficient reasons for decisions that seem idiotic today.
        2. The person most responsible is now your client, or your client's manager.
    • Study Guides
      1. Keep it simple and not too detailed
        • You're a consultant, not a district attorney
      2. Study for understanding, not for criticism
        • If you interrogate people, you may offend them.
        • ask less and listen more.
      3. Look for what you like in the present situation, and comment on it
    • The Endless Supply of Reasons

      We may run out of energy, or air, or water, or food, but we'll never run out of reasons.

      • People can give reasons for why they do things
      • People can do just as well with reasons for why not.
    • Giving your clients The Why Whammy is an excellent way to get facts
    • An even more powerful technique is to learn a principle from a client, then apply the principle to that client's problem.
    • The Label Law

      Most of us buy the label, not the merchandise

      • The name of a thing is not the thing.
      • Our tendency to
        1. attach a name—a label—to every new thing we see,
        2. and then to treat that thing as if the label were a true and total description.
      • The true expert can see multiple aspects of a situation
      • Once the stereotyped label is firmly attached, the problem becomes much harder to solve.
    • The Misdirection Method
      • many long-lasting conflicts can be traced to two parties labeling the same situation differently, even when they use the same words.

        The story of the optimist and the pessimist who were arguing about
        philosophy. The optimist declares,"This is the best of all possible
        worlds." The pessimist sighs and says, "You're right."
      • Attaching an emotionally charged label to direct attention away from one aspect of a situation is called The Misdirection Method.
      • Label tends to steer people away from examining one aspect of the project.
    • The Three-Finger Rule

      When you point a finger at someone, notice where the other three fingers are pointing.

      • One of the most effective ways to catch yourself being misled is to look for the pointed index finger.

    Clients always know how to solve their problems, and always tell the solution in the first five minutes.

Chapter 5. Seeing What's Not There

    • The absence of some tool for tabulating complaints was a sign of quality problems
      • The feedback (from these tools) would have eventually led to changes in quality
    • failed to notice what wasn't there I was so problem-oriented, that I missed the non-problems, those problems that might have been there but weren't.

    There are few new tools, although there are new ways to use old tools.

    • The Level Law

      Effective problem-solvers may have many problems, but rarely have a single, dominant problem.

      • As you keep solving your worst problem, the percent of trouble caused by your worst problem will diminish, and your remaining problems will tend to become relatively equal in percentage.
      • To the extent that The Level Law holds true, a consultant can learn quite a bit about a client by observing the distribution of trouble across the existing problems.
        • The fact that no one major problem exists implies that some effective problem-solving mechanisms are already in place.
        • Even though you may not solve any spectacular problem, you can identify the client's favorite problem-solving mechanisms in order to use them in your own suggested methods. This should make you look good to the client.
    • The Missing Solution
      • If one problem accounts for a major part of all the trouble, and has done so for some time, the client is evidently not terribly effective at problem-solving and has not been concentrating on problems in a worst-first manner.
      • Instead of looking for existing problem-solving mechanisms, you may want to
        1. do something simple that will knock out a visible chunk of the big problem and do it in such a way as to increase your credibility
        2. then use your credibility to gain a commitment of some resources to start on the next chunk.
      • A better approach may be to ignore the big problem initially and work to establish the clients' own problem-solving mechanisms.
        • Choose something simple and relatively certain of success
        • Let the clients learn how to solve their own problems themselves.
        • An added benefit is that they will gain needed confidence.
    • The Missing History
      • It's important to look not only at the distribution of problems, but the history of that distribution.
      • If the preponderant problem is something recent, perhaps introduced by some sudden external event, it's probably a good strategy to attack the problem directly
    • The Missing Request for Help
      • People who are so poor at solving problems very seldom ask for outside help.
      • When the request is missing, chances are you can't help.
      • Make sure that you've actually been asked.
    • Be Aware of Your Own Limitations

      Find out what you usually miss and design a tool to ensure that you don't miss it again.

      • There's one thing that's not missing in every single one of your consulting situations: you.
      • I write my understanding of the request in my notebook and ask the client to read and approve it.
    • Use Other People
      • When it comes to seeing what's missing, diversity is your ally.
      • Pose the question "What am I missing?" to as many people as you can find.
      • Recruit people at different levels, with different roles, and with different backgrounds.
    • Investigate Other Cultures
      • I make a particular effort to get consulting assignments outside the United States, because they open my eyes to what's missing in my own culture, as well as to things I've always taken for granted.
    • Use Laundry Lists
      • Rather than rely on your memory of other situations, it's sometimes useful to develop explicit lists of items that may be missing.
      • A laundry list reminds you of the different items that you might have forgotten, but that just might need cleaning up.
      • When working in poorly defined situations, you probably can't say in advance what elements must be present for success, so a laundry list is preferred.
      • It's also important not to grow too confident about your list, lest you become even more likely to miss something critical.
    • Check the Process
      • A laundry list can also be used to determine whether your search for missing things has been effective.
        1. Keep your laundry list in reserve until after you have your own list of missing items.
        2. Then compare the two lists.
        3. If the laundry list brings up new items, perhaps your original process of thinking up missing items wasn't that comprehensive.
        4. Try changing the process in some way and continue working.
      • Although a good process won't ensure that you see everything, a poor process will almost certainly cause you to overlook something.

        When working with an organization, I may conduct a meeting to identify
        missing items. If a meeting is dominated by one or two individuals, I
        know that I'm not getting the ideas of all the others. I try to keep
        the dominant individuals under control, but if I can't, I terminate
        the meeting. Then I meet the participants individually in an
        environment more conducive to their participation.
        • Any indication that your process was poor is an indication that a new process should be fruitful.

    If I don't come up with a few unreasonable items, then the process has been too conservative.

    • Weinberg's Law of Fetch

      Sometimes farfetched is only shortsighted.

    • The Rule of Three

      If you can't think of three things that might go wrong with your plans, then there's something wrong with your thinking.

      • Wanting to be right all the time makes it especially difficult to notice what's missing in your own thought processes.
      • The Rule of Three can be used to check any thinking process.
    • Look for Analogies
      • Think of some system that is somehow like the one you're examining, then use it as a source of ideas
    • Move to Extremes
      • You don't expect these things to happen, but playing with them in your mind distorts the current system and lets you see things that were previously concealed by reasonableness.
    • Look Outside the Boundary
      • The boundary between one part of a system and another is a good place to look for missing things—those things that each part assumes are taken care of by the other part
    • Look for Alibis Versus Explanations
      • Many written rules are instituted as quick fixes for problems that happened once in the past.
    • The Emotional Component
      • Consultants rarely get called when the client's rational methods have been working well, so something different is always needed.
      • One approach is to use a different rational method, but it may be more promising to be a bit irrational
    • The Incongruence Insight

      When words and music (the emotions being expressed) don't go together, they point to a missing element.

      • What is missing in these cases is congruence between the words being used and the emotions being expressed
      • The ability to sense incongruence is the consultant's most powerful "What's missing?" tool
      • The most effective method of finding that element is simply to comment on the incongruity and allow the client to respond.
        • I didn't try to interpret this incongruence, but merely brought it to his conscious attention.

    Words are often useful, but it always pays to listen to the music (especially your own internal music).

    • The music you hear from the client is only the external sound of an internal emotional state that you cannot, of course, know directly.
    • But you can know your own emotional state directly, and your own emotional state tends to be quite sensitive to the client's music
    • When you feel something strong going on inside yourself, capture it and start listening to the client's music for clues about its origin.
    • Or, comment about it to the client.
    • Which brings us full circle, back to knowing yourself, which is where all good consulting work originates

Chapter 6. Avoiding Traps

    • most of my troubles stem from the same source: me.
    • The most important law is the one you need right now
    • If people only did what they know they ought to do, cars wouldn't need bumpers
    • Laws are catchy phrases designed to pop into your mind when you're just about
      1. to do something you know you shouldn't do
      2. to forget to do something you know you should do
    • The Main Maxim <q What you don't know my not hurt you, but what you don't remember always does.
    • As a consultant, you need to be able to set triggers in your own head, and also in the heads of your clients
    • One of the most influential services is to help people stay out of trouble they know is there
    • The Potato Chip Principle <q If you know your audience, it's easy to set triggers
    • One-Liners
      • Most of The rund, compulsive readers immediately forget what they read, but that one-liner stuck
      • A one-liner can be a good trigger for something important
    • The Titanic Effect <q Will Rogers It ain't what we don't know that gets us in trouble, it's what we know that ain't so <q The thought that disaster is impossible leads to an unthinkable disaster
      • The rule in poker you don't lose your shirt on bad hands, but on hands that "can't lose"
    • Triggering on Natural Events
      • Plant a seed of uncertainty for The Titanic Effect
      • You will need something that happens all the time to trigger a few healthy doubts about what you know for sure
  • Building your own Bell System
    • The telephone company designed that bell so cleverly that I wouldn't be able to ignore it, no matter what else I was doing
    • How to build your own bell system, a system of triggers you simply can't ignore
    • Attached Notes
      • attach it to an event that's related to the behavior you want to catch.
    • Tally Cards
      • We've used the tally card with similar success on many other habitual problems.
        • To alter the habit of interrupting other people, I advise clients to keep a record of the time of each interruption and whom they are interrupting.
        • To reduce the tendency to waste time on the telephone, I have them keep a list of whom they spoke to, what time they started, and what time they finished.
      • In each of these cases, there's no requirement to do anything about the habit, except to gather information.
      • Some people find that the habit isn't as bad as they feared: Their trouble wasn't the habit, but how they felt about it.
    • Physical Devices
      • For a trigger to be effective, the timing must be perfect:
        • Too late means you're already committed to the troublesome action
        • too early means you may forget again betwixt the cup and the lip.
    • Other People
      • I've sometimes asked people to remind me of something when all I really wanted was someone to blame when I didn't do what I was supposed to do.
        • I finally learned to use my blaming as a trigger, to remind me that it was really my problem, not theirs.
      • people tend to trigger multiple associations.
    • Signals
      • It's a good policy not to use people as triggers unless they volunteer for the job, and know exactly what they're getting into.
      • To avoid abusing your volunteers, you must know about your own emotional reactions.
    • Mutual Trigger Pacts
    • Limits to the Unconscious
      • The unconscious is not an exact and analytical organ, so triggers from the unconscious aren't foolproof.
    • anyone who claims to have a completely logical mind has got to be crazy.

Chapter 7. Amplifying Your Impact

    • a supervisor's survival kit should be even more useful to a supervisee.
    • Any good supervisor should be thrilled to see a worker learning about the problems of supervision.
    • Supervisors aren't appreciated because most workers don't have a clue as to what supervisors really do.
    • if the supervisor is doing a good job, most of the work itself is essentially invisible.

    "I don't have to outrun the bear." "Why not?" "I just have to outrun you."

    • I just have to outrun my clients.
    • To be successful, I must amplify my impact.
    • Getting Stuck
      • any large, complex system operating in an overly controlled and predictable environment can get stuck.
      • This sticking effect is another reason successful organizations fail.
        • As organizations become better managed, their day-to-day operations can become so smooth that parts of the organization get "stuck" and cease productive functioning.
        • This problem is particularly acute in those parts of the organization that are supposed to do new, creative work: research, development, training, and programming.
    • The Jiggler Role
      • As a jiggler, my job is to get something started, to cause some changes that will ultimately get the system unstuck.
    • Stuck by Overload
    • Stuck Communication
    • Opportunities to Jiggle
      • There are always opportunities to jiggle
        • People don't always see what their real problems are, so consultants are often employed to make the system get even more firmly stuck on the wrong problem
        • when you have your eyes and ears open, you can't guarantee you will observe only things that are relevant to the official problem
        • Nor can you guarantee that you'll only affect things that are relevant
      • Giving a speech is a form of jiggling
        • But jiggling will fail if the arrangements are too formal
        • Rather than being introduced as a speaker and consultant, I prefer to be introduced simply as "someone from outside with whom anyone an discuss matters of concern."
    • The Law of the Jiggle (The First Law of Intervention)

      Less is more.

      • If you're intent on jiggling others, it's important for two reasons that you experience being jiggled yourself:
        1. so you'll get unstuck;
        2. so you'll know how it feels.
      • In most cases, the only jiggling that's required is a tiny modification in the client's way of seeing the world.
    • The Elephant
      • Often, my biggest job is getting the client to accept that other views are possible.
      • There's nothing wrong with telling, but it's surprisingly difficult for blind people and sighted people to communicate about their worlds.
        • Their experiences are so different that simple words mean different things.
    • Changing Perceptions
      • Before people can communicate effectively through words, they must have shared experiences.
      • Companies that rotate their employees through different jobs and departments seem to develop people with richer perspectives.
      • The best way would be to actually cure their blindness. (clients' perceptual hangups.)
    • The Hippopotamus
    • Changing Awareness

      "Don't be aware of your feet pressing on the floor!"

      • The more you try to obey the suggestion, the more you violate it.
    • Seeing Internal Behavior
      • The Hidden Agenda is one of the techniques I use to train people to "see" inside others.
        • Before a meeting begins, I give each participant a sheet of paper on which is written a secret personal assignment for that meeting.
        • Here are some examples of such secret assignments:
          • Try to see to it that every decision the meeting takes is written down and displayed so all can view it.
          • Make sure that every person gets a chance to talk on every topic.
          • Do not let any single person or clique dominate the meeting.
          • Pretend that you have not prepared for this meeting, and try to conceal that fact from everyone else throughout the entire meeting.
          • If at all possible, see that the meeting comes to decision X without letting yourself be identified with that decision.
        • By playing the role explicitly, the actor learns to "see" behavior that was previously invisible, or to see alternative interpretations for behavior that was previously visible.
        • the best way to speed a meeting's progress is simply to keep quiet.
          • Pretend you have another meeting to attend following this one. You very much want to attend that meeting, so do everything you can to make this meeting end as quickly as possible.
          • Pretend you have another meeting to attend following this one. You very much want to miss that meeting, which you can do if this one runs overtime. Do everything you can to make this meeting last as long as possible.
    • Seeing Feelings
      • seeing feelings is more important than seeing thoughts,
      • In order to get people more in touch with themselves, I used to ask them to write down their feelings in a personal journal.
      • It's not that people hadn't understood the question, but that they were blind to feelings.
      • Yet without that first glimpse, the request to write about their feelings is literally as meaningless as asking a blind person to write about the color of an elephant's eyes.
    • Your task is to influence people, but only at their request.
    • You strive to make people less dependent on you, rather than more dependent.
    • You try to obey The Law of the Jiggle: The less you actually intervene, the better you feel about your work.
    • If your clients want help in solving problems, you are able to say no.
    • If you say yes but fail, you can live with that. If you succeed, the least satisfying approach is when you solve the problem for them.
    • More satisfying is to help them solve their problems in such a way that they will be more likely to solve the next problem without help.
    • Most satisfying is to help them learn how to prevent problems in the first place.
    • You can be satisfied with your accomplishments, even if clients don't give you credit.
    • Your ideal form of influence is first to help people see their world more clearly, and then to let them decide what to do next.
    • Your methods of working are always open for display and discussion with your clients.
    • Your primary tool is merely being the person you are, so your most powerful method of helping other people is to help yourself.
  • being a trigger carries a certain responsibility.

Chapter 8. Gaining Control of Change

Consultants work by getting their clients to amplify small interventions.


    Some of the time, in some places, significant change happens—especially when people aren't working hard at it.

    • how it is that change ever happens,
    • what can be done to prevent it.

    Cucumbers get more pickled than brine gets cucumbered.

    • Perhaps because stability is so widespread, most change arises from stability in some way.
    • Beating the Brine

      A small system that tries to change a big system through long and continued contact is more likely to be changed itself.

      • To avoid getting pickled, a consultant must not spend too much time with one client.
      • The challenge, then, is how to get the client in long, continued contact with some kind of brine, without the consultant even being present.
    • Roamer's Rule

      Struggling to stay at home can make you a wanderer.

    • Homer's Rule

      Struggling to travel can make you a stay-at-home.

    • The Most Powerful Force for Change
      • Change requires a powerful and unrelenting force, and what could be more powerful than the desire not to change?
      • So, according to Prescott's Pickle Principle, it's the most likely cause of change.
    • The best way to lose something is to struggle to keep it.

      • fish came out of the water in order to stay in the water, and became amphibious animals
      • the biggest and longest lasting changes usually originate in attempts to preserve the very thing that ultimately changes most.
    • A Change That Makes No Difference
    • The Fast-Food Fallacy
      • In order for The Fast-Food Fallacy to be valid, we need two logical conditions:
        1. repetition (providing some standard product or service a large number of times);
          • a small savings on one item provides a large savings on all the items.
        2. centralization (accounting for the cost of providing the standard product or service).
          • But without centralization, savings never accumulates enough in one place to make a difference.
      • Compositional Fallacy,

        no difference plus no difference equals no difference.

      • No difference plus no difference plus no difference plus ... eventually equals a clear difference.
    • The Strong and Unrelenting Force
      • To achieve constancy amidst change, there has to be some strong and unrelenting force.
    • Ford's Fundamental Feedback Formula

      1. People can take any amount of water from any stream to use for any purpose desired.
      2. People must return an equal amount of water upstream from the point from which they took it.
      • Consultants seeking to preserve quality should first verify that the people responsible for quality are, in fact, downstream from that quality.
      • Insensitive bureaucrats are generally found in places where they never use the services they are supposed to provide, such as welfare and unemployment offices.
    • Measuring Effectiveness

      Would you place your own life/money in the hands of this system?

      • "putting your money where your mouth is."
    • Putting Your Money
      • When we consultants propose changes, the first thing we should do is decide what level of Weinberg Test we're designing for, then put our own feelings on the line.
      • In the engineering disciplines, it took many deaths to provide the motivation for improving the state of the art.

Chapter 9. How to Make Changes Safely

  • The New Law

    Nothing new ever works.

  • Why is 'everyone' obsessed with changing everything for something new?
  • The Worst Affliction

    Nothing new ever works, but there's always hope that this time will be different.

    • Rather than fight change, a more sensible approach is to learn to live with it.
    • Trust everyone, but cut the cards.

      • Let them try whatever they like, but teach them how to protect themselves.
      • As a consultant, you're dealing the cards.
      • You can stack the deck for them by helping them establish a series of defenses when they are trying some new deal.
        1. Accept Failure
        2. Trade Improvement for Perfection
          • Improvement is easier than perfection
          • The best is the enemy of the good 至善者,善之敌
        3. Apply The Rule of Three
        4. Invent a Backup
          • Some of the failures can actually be turned into backup methods, given a little twist.
    • The Edsel Edict:

      If you must have something new, take one, not two.

    • Choosing Your Time and Place to put the change into effect.
    • The Volkswagen Verity:

      If you can't refuse it, defuse it.

      • There are many strategies for defusing newness, such as, • making practice runs in a similar situation • breaking the newness into parts, to be adopted singly • letting others share the breaking-in
    • The Time Bomb

      Time wounds all heels.

      • When I recommend these strategies, the most frequent objection is that they "waste time."
      • The surest way to waste time is to throw caution to the winds.

    Much of the change I see is motivated by crises.

    Motivation by crisis isn't the most clever way to do things, but as a consultant, I have had to learn how to deal with it.

    Whether it's possible for people to change without going through a crisis.

    • Crisis and Illusion

      It may look like a crisis, but it's only the end of an illusion.

    • The Struggle to Preserve

      When change is inevitable, we struggle most to keep what we value most.

    • Illusions Only Make It Worse

      When you create an illusion, to prevent or soften change, the change becomes more likely—and harder to take.

      • Most real change is a slow process. Like aging.
      • But when we build illusions to hide the change, we soon find ourselves spending all our energy maintaining the illusions. That keeps us from dealing with change while it's still small.
      • It's the crash of illusions that makes us believe change happens as crises."
      • Whatever approach you use, do it in an open, clear manner.
        • because when difficult changes begin, truth is always a scarce commodity.
        • If you really care about "protecting" people, don't ever "protect" them from the truth.
        • The truth may hurt, but illusions hurt worse.

Chapter 10. What to Do When They Resist

    • It's frightening to encounter a client who doesn't resist your ideas, because that places the full responsibility on you to be correct at all times.
    • Since nobody's perfect, we need resistance to test our ideas.
    • the first step in dealing with resistance is to appreciate it for the way in which it makes the consultant's job easier.
  • Flawless Consulting: A Guide to Getting Your Expertise Used
    • Your Reaction
      • my most reliable resistance detector is direct observation of my own behavior.
      • Here are a few of the actions you may catch yourself doing:
        • Defensive
          • moving away
          • looking away
          • shaking head no
          • crossing arms, legs
          • excessive smiling
          • yawning
        • Aggressive
          • pointing finger
          • staring downward
          • shaking head yes
          • shaking fist
          • excessive frowning
          • drumming
    • Their Action

    I'm having trouble because the subject keeps changing. Can you help me
    stay focused on one thing at a time?
    • Waiting for a Response
      • I must keep my mouth shut (to keep things on a neutral plane)
    • Dealing with Questions
      • "I've answered three questions, but I don't see the direction we're going in."
      1. You can make buffalo go anywhere, just so long as they want to go there.
      2. You can keep buffalo out of anywhere, just so long as they don't want to go there.
    • Work Together to Discover the Source
      • "Resistance" is "safety" to the client
        • People do things because they think they will gain more than they will lose
        • They resist when they perceive a negative balance.
      • Working together brings subconscious factors into the light
        • Clients tend to overestimate negative factors that go unspoken

          The best ghost-story writers never describe their monsters too
          explicitly, because the ghost you can see clearly is the ghost you can
          learn to live with.
        • After putting a name and a clear description on some potential loss, the irrational fear evaporates.
      • Most of the factors clients forget are positive
    • Find and Test Alternative Approaches (An excellent way to disclose the unconscious sources of resistance)

      - "How would you feel if we stretched out the schedule by six months?"
      - "Would this plan seem more attractive if we could somehow cut the
        cost by thirty percent?"
      - "What if we could do it without bringing in additional people?"
      - "Suppose we left the computer alone and changed just the manual
      - "What one thing could we change in this plan that would make the
        most difference to you?"
      - "If the Good Fairy granted you just one wish about this plan, what
        would it be?"
      - "I know you can't think of anything you'd like to change about this
        plan, but if you could think of something, what would it be?"

      Getting rid of resistance is to understand the client better

      • Reducing Uncertainty
        • Resistance based on uncertainty
        • The desire for more time may be a specific need for time or a general need for reducing uncertainty
      • Getting Out of the Way
        • The most important part of overcoming resistance is to prevent it (the plan) from becoming frozen in place
        • The purpose is to help the client to solve a problem, not to demonstrate my superior intelligence or dominant will
        • When I can't get past the resistance, I try not to take it personally
        • When an impasse reaches a certain point, it's best simply to let go and announce, "I'm afraid this one is too big for me. I hope you'll solve it, but I can't think of anything else that might help you."
        • What amazes me most is that as soon as I let go, the client's resistance usually collapses. It's hard to resist when nobody's pushing.

Chapter 11. Marketing Your Services

    • Most consultants get into the business by accident.
    • And most of them start with at least one major client already signed up.
    • The "approved" way to start a small business is to survey the market, then plan how to create a demand or meet existing market needs.
    • Because most consultants start by accident, with bread and butter assured by their first client, they rarely give a thought to marketing their services—until they lose their first client.
    • The Right Amount of Business

      • Question: How do you tell an old consultant from a new consultant?
      • Answer: The new consultant complains, "I need more business." The old consultant complains, "I need more time."
      • A consultant can exist in one of two states: State I (idle) or State B (busy).

      • it's essential for any consultant to have realistic marketing goals.
    • The Best Way to Get Clients
      • the amount of business you have partially determines the amount of business you get.
      • >

        The best way to get clients is to have clients.

      • The time to look for consulting business is when you have too much consulting business.
        • Everyone likes to go with a winner.
        • There's no better marketing tool than a sincere refusal to consider additional work.
    • Exposure Time
      • Spend at least one day a week getting exposure.

      • Three kinds of exposure
        1. The kind you pay for
          • Advertising
            • Of little interest to individual consultants
            • The only essential advertising expense is for business cards and stationery
              • So people will remember your address and phone number
              • You can distribute the business cards whenever you get free exposure
        2. The kind you get free
        3. The kind you get paid for
          • If you're even more enterprising, you'll manage to get paid for getting exposure
            • Cultivate your speaking skills
            • Polish your writing skills
            • Develop your training skills
      • Promotional activities transformed into the main source of revenue
    • How Important Are You?
      • Clients are more important to you than you can ever be to them.

    • Big Clients
      • Never let a single client have more than one fourth of your business.

      • Don't let one client get a large share of your business that you could not survive the loss of that client
    • To be able to say yes to yourself as a consultant, be able to say no to any of your clients.

      • Any time you're afraid to say no to your client
        1. You lose your effectiveness as a consultant
        2. You lose the client's respect, which increases the chance that you'll eventually lose the business
    • Satisfied Clients
      • The best marketing tool is a satisfied client.

      • Always ask satisfied clients for permission to use them as references
        • A specific reference triples your chances of landing the contract to somebody new
      • Indirect references (Satisfied clients will market for you) are more important
      • Ask clients how they got my name
        1. Understand marketing
        2. Thank the person who recommended me
    • Giving It Away
      • Give away your best ideas.

      • Consulting is a high-risk business
        It's no business for cowards
        As soon as you lose your nerve, you stop investing in new ideas and try to milk your last idea for the maximum return
        Ideas are too easy to steal
        As soon as you lock onto a single idea, your days as a consultant are numbered
        • The return on resources invested in new ideas is a thousand times greater than a similar investment in lawsuits (at a client for stealing one of your ideas)
        • My big payoff comes from generating new ideas, not hanging on to things that are done and gone
        • My ideas weren't original in the first place. I "borrowed" them from others and modified them in subtle ways

          It is not once, nor twice, but times without number, that the same idea makes an appearance in the world.

      • Do everything possible to encourage my clients to take over the work I've been doing
        1. Increases the chance they'll give me future business
        2. Increases the chance they'll recommend me to others
      • It's possible to destroy business by giving clients too much.
      • It tastes better when you add your own egg.

      • The "egg" that makes the difference can be almost anything, as long as it's something consumers contribute for themselves.
      • Don't make the client feel stupid (which is far worse)
    • Doing Nothing Is Doing Something
      • Spend at least one-fourth of your time doing nothing.

      • You should not be
        1. doing anything that is billable to any client
        2. out getting exposure
        3. doing administrative work at the office
      • Why?
        1. If your time is solidly booked, you will not be in a position to take advantage of a sudden opportunity for new business.
        2. Although you don't want to jump in response to every command from your present clients, it is an important part of your service to be able to respond quickly to a genuine emergency.
        3. As a human being, you are subject to failures, like blizzards and broken legs, that might prevent you from keeping promises if you have no slack in your schedule.
        4. You are your only product: Without slack time to replenish yourself, you will soon either burn out or run out of fresh ideas. Either way, you won't sell.
        5. Practice at doing nothing will help you learn not to give your clients too much.
      • Price your services properly so that you can afford to take so much time doing "nothing"
        • Sell yourself with a five times multiplier
    • ()

      Market for quality, not quantity

    • For most rich people, money is boring

Chapter 12. Putting a Price on Your Head

People know the price of everything and the value of nothing.

  • SEX
    • Pricing has many functions, only one of which is the exchange of money.

    • Like sex, price setting
      1. is done behind closed doors
      2. consumes a lot of energy
      3. has unpredictable consequences
    • If you focus on the money aspects, you'll probably set the wrong price
      1. The more they pay you, the more they love you.
      2. The less they pay you, the less they respect you.
    • Within a certain range, the higher your price, the more business you get.
    • Don't work for clients who won't pay your regular price.
    • The money is usually the smallest part of the price.

    • Costs besides the money
      1. The psychological cost of admitting there is a problem
      2. The labor to get approval for your visit
      3. The difficulty of changing schedules
      4. The time and trouble to line up people to see you,
      5. All the extra work the client might have to do after you've gone.
    • By arranging for clients to pay something that's of value to them, even if it's not paid to you, you have, in effect, raised the price.
    • Pricing is not a zero-sum game.

    • Look upon the consulting as a way of getting paid education
    • My gains don't have to be their losses.
    • In order to set fees properly, you have to start from a base of knowing what you're trying to accomplish with your fee.
    • If you need the money, don't take the job.

    • Why not?
      • If you need money badly, you may
        1. set your price too high in order to try to get solvent on this one job.
        2. set your price too low, hoping to sell the job on the basis of price.
      • Both of these occurrences destroy the usefulness of price as a tool in your consulting.
    • If they don't like your work, don't take their money.

    • Any time I do work, I explain that after we're finished, if my clients don't agree that it was worth the fee, they can have their money back.
    • You'll inspire your own confidence in yourself.
      • After you've done the job, if the client doesn't ask for the money back, you know you must have reached some minimum level of performance
    • Money is more than price.

    • You can use the exchange of money to create the conditions you need in order to be successful at consulting.
      • Such a fee also forces clients to consider the contract more carefully, and to respect the value of my time.
      • Once a fee has been paid, people feel that the job has actually started, and they're more likely to buckle down and do what I suggest.
      • If the client has asked me to do a job that I'm not certain I can do, I may set my fees in stages.
        • This gives both of us a way to cancel out as the project develops, without considering cancellation a failure.
        • Setting a staged fee communicates to the client that I am not sure I understand the problem.
    • Price is not a thing; it's a negotiated relationship.

    • Delegate the negotiation to another person
      1. she finds it easier to put a high value on my services than I do.
      2. all agreements are scrupulously recorded and exchanged with the client.
      3. make my feelings and assumptions about fees explicit. (When discuss setting a fee.)
    • Set the price so you won't regret it either way.

    • Two possibilities
      1. Accepted
      2. Rejected
        • Whenever I'm turned down for a job and then regret my high price, I try to make a mental note so that on the next similar job, I'll shave the price a little.
        • But if I'm turned down and don't regret it, I leave the price alone.
    • To apply The Ninth Law, I must know my feelings about money, time, travel, and varieties of work.
    • always set the price so as not to destroy the price as an effective consulting tool.
      Too low
      Too high

      I'll feel that I'm not able to deliver something of value equal to what is being paid.

      Too high a price might make me push too hard for results that aren't really possible to obtain.

    • All prices are ultimately based on feelings, both yours and theirs.

    • I just lay out several prices in a range and than imagine myself in a situation in which I'm turned down and am sitting at home, or the situation in which I've accepted and I'm doing the job. Based on where I feel best on all sides, I set my price.
    • Most important is what you feel you're worth

Chapter 13. How To Be Trusted

  • What determines who gets the job and who keeps it:
    • The Laws of Pricing tell us that price sets the conditions of work, but generally doesn't determine whether or not you get the job.
    • It's the differences between consultants that determine who gets the job.
    • Consultants who are looking for work should think less about price and learn more about trust
    • The Value of Explanations
      • One definition of trust

        Firm reliance on a person's integrity or ability

        "I can't rely on you"

        1. "I can't rely on your integrity"
        2. "I can't rely on your ability"
      • In order for people to work effectively with me, they need an image of what I can do and what I can't do.
      • Nobody but you cares about the reason you let another person down.

        • Because you're stuck with yourself and your self-image for life
        • Other people can form all the image of you they need from deeds, not words
    • Trust takes years to win, moments to lose.

    • People don't tell you when they stop trusting you.

    • This unwillingness to communicate makes it very difficult for a consultant to correct behavior the client sees as untrustworthy
    • If the consultant's problem is not listening, then the problem is doubly difficult.
    • Ensure that you hear the client
      1. Work on listening skills, both verbal and nonverbal
      2. Work with a partner so at least one person can pay full attention to the listening problem
      3. Contract in advance for a follow-up interview, in which the client is expected to give me information about my performance
    • The trick of earning trust is to avoid all tricks.

    • Try being straight for a change.
    • Getting hidden feelings out in the open is the most straightforward thing to do to increase trust
    • If I don't understand the client's reasoning, any action I take is likely to appear unpredictable
      • If I act unpredictably on a matter involving intense feeling, I will certainly destroy my client's trust
    • People are never liars -- in their own eyes.

    • Trust their integrity, but
      • people can get facts wrong
      • people may intentionally give incorrect facts, but they never consider them lies
        • simplifying
        • smoothing
        • omitting
    • Never be dishonest, even if the client requests it

    • If you turn down such a request, the client may remember you as uncooperative.
    • But if you give in to a request for dishonesty, you'll always be remembered as a cheat.
    • Never promise anything (you're not sure you can deliver).

    • Always keep your promise

    • Get it in writing, but depend on trust.

    • A written contract is a useful way to prevent misunderstandings
    • But once trust goes, the written contract is worthless

Chapter 14. Getting People to Follow Your Advice

  • No consultant is perfect -> consultants need advice themselves
    1. Never use cheap seed.
      • Seeds are like ideas.
      • Do whatever you can to get the best ideas before you invest a lot of money cultivating them.
    2. A prepared soil is the secret of all gardening
      • It's the preparation before you plant an idea that makes most of the difference as to whether it works or not.
    3. Timing is critical
      • Too often, consultants broadcast their ideas the moment they happen to get them, rather than the moment that's right for germination.
    4. The plants that hold firmest are the ones that develop their own roots.
      • You might have to protect it a little bit when it's small
      • The less protection you give it, the hardier the plant is going to be.
    5. Excessive watering produces weakness, not strength
      • We all want to get support for our ideas, which sometimes leads us into overselling.
      • Too many resources poured into a young idea produces lots of action, but few results.
      • Ideas, like plants, thrive on a certain amount of struggle.
    6. In spite of your best efforts, some plants will die.
      • Learn to live with failure and to not take it personally.

Readings and Other Experiences: Where to Go If You Want More