The Consulting Bible: An Excerpt

Here is the opening of my new book, available in about a month from John Wiley & Sons, The Consulting Bible. It will be available for order on my site in about a week.

Section I: Genesis

Consulting as a profession

The origins, evolution, and basic requirements

of successful consulting.

Some realities are self-evident and eternal.


Chapter 1

Origins and Evolution

From whence we came

The role of a consultant

One day, somewhere in the mid-Pleistocene Epoch, after the last glacial period, a man was trying to create a stronger point on his stone spear head, so that he could better hunt and slay the peccaries that fed his clan, and protect himself from dire wolves that fed on his clan. He did this in the only way he knew how, which he learned watching his father—he laboriously abraded the sides of the point on a larger rock.

On this day, however, a stranger happened by who may have been seeking more interesting surroundings, or was exiled from his clan or, one could readily assume, might have simply been lost. Observing the work on the spearhead, the stranger demonstrated that the point had to be ground on a harder rock, not a softer one, and indicated how to choose them. Not just any rock would do. And, indeed, his method worked and the hunter fashioned a sharper spearhead more quickly. The stranger was offered thanks, provided with food, and bestowed with a lion’s tooth. He then went on his way once again, well fed, and with a talisman.

Consulting had been born.

The Gospel: The role of a consultant is to improve the client’s condition.

It may or may not have happened that way, but you can’t prove it didn’t. Consulting—advice, counsel, suggestions—has been around since people began living together. Claims of  “the oldest profession” have been misapplied to another career, though some would claim that consulting can also be somewhat meretricious if performed with poor motives or lack of skills.

Our job is to improve the client’s condition. Doctors are consultants, and one of the first things they learn in medical school is Primum non nocere (first, do no harm). When we walk away from a client, the client’s condition should be better than it was before we arrived, or we’ve failed. (That “we” may mean both the client and we have failed, but we share in the failure in any case.)

It’s that simple.

© Alan Weiss 2011. All rights reserved.


2 thoughts on “The Consulting Bible: An Excerpt

  1. Love your take on this! Problem is that some clients are incapable of breaking out from their dinosaur eggshell, or even reluctant to do so.

    As a consultant, I’ve broken the T-Rex eggshell, shone the light on the next steps for a few clients, however they were unable or unwilling to make the step out to start to grow and prosper. Often, egos get in the way, or their bonus (which have, invariably a short term focus)

    I’m reluctant to cross the boundary of running their life. Let the evolutionary forces run their course!

  2. Never assume your client is damaged unless they give you evidence to the contrary. There are some clients who just want you to prove them right. I worked for a hospital where the CEO kept bringing in different consultants until he found one who proved his way the best. He never did fine one, and was eventually fired by the board.

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