The Secrets of Consulting by Gerald Weinberg is one of the most entertaining (largely?) non-fiction books that I have read - a heady mix of How to Win Friends and Influence People, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (just look at the illustrations!) , and the 10 Commandments. The book provides general advice, case studies/stories and then derives general "rules" and recommendations from these.
Personally, I found the chapter on the pricing of consulting to be particularly interesting. Thinking about setting a price previously, I would have suggested it should be enough to cover costs and make a bit of a profit. Weinberg points out that price is more than this - it is a big factor in the relationship and the level of respect for the consultant.
The Weinberg's consulting "rules" are quite numerous - my personal favourites are:
- "If you can't fix it, feature it."
- "It may look like a crisis, but it's only the end of an illusion."
- "You'll never accomplish anything if you care who gets the credit."
- "If something's faked, it must need fixing."
- "The name of the thing [label] is not the thing."
- "It tastes better when you add your own egg."
- "You don't get nothin' for nothin'. Moving in one direction incurs a cost in the other."
- "Whatever the client is doing, advice something else."
- "What you don't know may not hurt you, but what you don't remember always does."
- "Clients always know how to solve their problems and always tell the solution in the first five minutes."
- "When change is inevitable, we struggle most to keep what we value most."
- "The biggest and longest lasting changes usually originate in attempts to preserve the very thing ultimately changes most."
- "Effective problem-solvers may have many problems, but rarely have a single, dominant problem."
- "Make sure they pay you enough so they'll do what you say. The most important act in consulting is setting the right fee."
- "The more they pay you, the more they love you. The less they pay you, the less they respect you."
- "Spend at least one day a week getting exposure." and "Spend at least 1/4 of your time doing nothing." and make sure your fee covers this.
- "Set a price so you won't regret it either way."
- "If they don't like your work, don't take their money."
- "Cucumbers get more pickled than brine gets cucumbered."
- "Give away your best ideas."
- "Look for what you like in the present situation and comment on it."
- "Study for understanding, not for criticism."
- "Never promise more than 10% improvement.. if you happen to achieve more than 10% improvement, make sure it isn't noticed."
- "Consultants tend to be the most effective on the third problem you give them."
- "The child who receives a hammer for Christmas will discover that everything needs pounding."