The Consultant’s Tool Kit

ISBN: 0-932633-52-8 216 pp. softcover

Dorset House Publishing

(translations: Japanese, Chinese, German)

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Here are excerpts from a Dorset House (DHQ) interview with Jerry:

DHQ: Congratulations on the upcoming release of More Secrets of Consulting. Your 1985 classic The Secrets of Consulting continues to be one of Dorset House’s best sellers. What’s different about More Secrets, and what prompted you to return to a topic that you’ve written about so successfully?

Weinberg: I decided that I’d learned a lot of things about consulting in 15 years, and the new book contains those things I learned that I thought would be most useful to the same readers who found Secrets so useful.

DHQ: The central theme of More Secrets is what you call ”the consultant’s tool kit,” which includes symbolic objects like a mirror, a telescope, and a fish-eye lens. Tell us how you put together your tool kit, especially how it relates to the late family therapist Virginia Satir’s self-esteem tool kit?

Weinberg: Virginia taught me that I had all the tools I needed to be a successful consultant (and human being), but that I might not be using all those tools to their fullest potential. Virginia’s tool kit was inspired by Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz, where Dorothy and her friends made a long journey only to discover that they already had the tools they so fervently desired. I believe that we all have those tools, and the purpose of this book is to remind us of some we’ve forgotten, or that we underutilize.

DHQ: So many books focus on technical skills, professional certification, and the mastery of trendy software development methods, but yours concentrates on the personal abilities, attitudes, and self-esteem of computer consultants. What led you to this concentration?

Weinberg: Willy Sutton, the bank robber, was asked why he robbed banks. He replied, ”Because that’s where the money is.” I write about personal abilities, attitudes, and self-esteem of consultants because that’s where the money is — the payoff in a successful consulting practice.


”Jerry Weinberg’s career is the envy of most consultants that I know. I find it wonderful that he is prepared to share the secrets of his success.”

”Buy this book if you are a consultant, or thinking of becoming one.”

–James Robertson, The Atlantic Systems Guild,

”He has so much to say . . . so many instructive stories to tell. . . .”

”. . . a delightful introduction to the man and his work.”

–Richard Mateosian, IEEE Micro From Amazon:

What a lively, and fun to read volume!

From The Journal of Academic Librarianship.

What a lively, and fun to read volume! Weinberg has written an excellent book, which certainly complements his bestseller, The Secrets of Consulting (1985). Weinberg used an interesting and exciting approach to communicating his wisdom on consulting to others. This book is organized in 15 chapters; their titles range from “The Law of Strawberry Jam” to the “The Oxygen Mask.” Each chapter, under its “catchy” title, provides both breadth and depth on a particular aspect of consulting. Also, the chapters contain illustrations, quotes, headings, and lists. By quickly perusing the volume, one could be overwhelmed. This book should not be read from cover to cover; one should read a few chapters, and then attempt to digest Weinberg1s message(s).

This book is full of fresh ideas, paradoxes, ironies, and provocativeness. It can be entertaining and concurrently thought provoking. The chapters delve into a multitude of “do’s” and “don’ts” for consultants. Even though the author is sharing “secrets” with consultants, the everyday layperson could learn much about life in general from this volume. The book should be added to one’s “self-help” collection. Chapter 9 (“The Mirror”) does a commendable job in articulating the importance of feedback. The “mirror” is the actual feedback as described by the author. Chapter 10 (“The Telescope”) provides excellent insights in how one can see oneself. The “telescope” is paired with the “mirror” reminding one of introspection.

A listing of laws, rules, and principles is given in summary form on pages 185 and 193. The book is well indexed and it contains a bibliography. Anyone seriously wanting to learn more about the personal aspects of consulting should first read Weinberg’s Secrets of Consulting and subsequently read More Secrets of Consulting.

… I recommend this book for any consultant or anyone else aspiring to learn more about how to improve one1s effectiveness while working with others.

— Donald E. Riggs, Vice President for Information Services and University Librarian, Nova Southeastern University, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33314, ([email protected]).

Advice for all phases of a business relationship

Reviewer: Charles Ashbacher from Hiawatha, Iowa

If you were to buy this book and the previous one, “Secrets of Consulting”, and read them, then your next step should be to place one in each of your hip pockets. For that is the only part of being a consultant not covered in these books. Wrapped in the guise of folk wisdom, the advice given here could and should be part of a business degree. For, no matter what the circumstances and the size of the companies represented on both sides, a business deal still reduces down to individuals who trust each other enough to “like” each other in the business sense.

Truthfully, and to contradict the author, there really are no secrets to being a successful consultant. The ways to be successful are just the basic business rules that apply elsewhere, in that you need to find out what the customer really wants and deliver it at a cost that is good for you and acceptable to them. This is not easy, and the best advice is to listen hard, explore all options and most of all, be prepared to contradict the buyer when it is in their best interests. Even when it may not be in your best interests, at least in the short term. It is a fallacy and cowardly to try to follow the mantra that the customer is always right. They are not, and that is more a part of the consultant’s life than any other profession. In many ways, you are being paid to tell your customers when they are not right and to do anything other than that is a moral breach of your contract. Weinberg spends a great deal of time in explaining how to deal with this critical situation and that advice hits the dime-sized target.

No one writes business advice better than Weinberg. If he ever decides to give up writing about business, he could make a career out of writing personal self-help books. It will be on my top ten books of the year list.

Sound advice for professional consultants and others

Can’t Weinberg keep a secret?

reviewed by Conrad Weisert, From:

Strike one!

This book is a sequel to the author’s 1985 original The Secrets of Consulting, ISBN 0-932633-01-3. Although secrets is by no means a synonym for principles or techniques, authors and lecturers keep promising to share with us the “secrets” of their specialty. Even if their information were secret to begin with, of course, it would hardly still be secret after publication.

The author himself switches to “laws, rules, and principles” in his summary. So, Gerald Weinberg starts out with one strike for his title’s silly, annoying, and presumably deliberate misuse of an English word.

Unorganized valuable wisdom

Both volumes present Weinberg’s highly personal, anecdotal, and unorganized wisdom. These are not books you can easily skip around in to find a particular topic of interest. You should read them straight through, preferably in a single sitting.

Computing professionals know Gerald Weinberg as one of the most successful consultant/educators in our field. Learning what techniques have worked for him will surely help us to do our jobs better. The author also candidly shares some of what has not worked for him, also valuable lessons for us.

The audience

Whether we make our living as professional consultants, most of us do consulting at least some of the time in the course of systems analysis, project management, programming, and other information systems activities. That is, we give advice to decision makers. Gerald Weinberg’s two secrets books, therefore, are valuable on every computing professional’s book shelf.