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Consulting Laws, Rules and Principles

Consulting Laws

  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. 

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


Systems Analysis Principles

  1. Top-down study

  2. Goal-centred approach

  3. Objective basis

  4. Analytic & policy components

  5. Generalised problem

  6. Optimisation through simulation

  7. Explicit operating values and biases

  8. Client-orientation

Systems Analysis Phases

  1. Determine goals of system

  2. Establish criteria for ranking alternative candidates

  3. Develop alternative solutions

  4. Rank alternative candidates

  5. Iterate

  6. Action

10 Golden Rules of Systems Analysis

  1. There always is a client

  2. The client does not understand his problem

  3. You must generalise the problem

  4. The client does not understand the index of performance

  5. You are the analyst, not the decision-maker

  6. Meet the time-deadline and the cost budget

  7. Take a goal-centred not a technology-centre approach

  8. Non-users must be considered in the analysis and the recommendations

  9. The universal computer model is a fantasy

  10. The role of the decision-maker in public spaces is often confused

Marketing Laws

  1. A consultant can exist in one of two states: idle or busy. 

  2. The best way to get clients is to have clients. 

  3. Spend at least one day a week getting exposure. 

  4. Clients are more important to you than you can ever be to them. 

  5. Never let a single client have more than one-fourth of your business. 

  6. The best marketing tool is a satisfied client. 

  7. Give away your best ideas. 

  8. It tastes better when you add you own egg. 

  9. Spend as least one-fourth of your time doing nothing. 

  10. Market for quality, not quantity. 


Pricing Laws

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

  2. The more they pay you, the more they love you. The less they pay you, the less they respect you. 

  3. The money is usually the smallest part of the price. 

  4. Pricing is not a zero-sum game. 

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

  6. If they don't like your work, don't take their money. 

  7. Money is more than price. 

  8. Price is not a thing, it's a negotiated relationship. 

  9. Set the price so you won't regret it either way. 

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


Trust Laws

  1. Nobody but you cares about the reason you let them down. 

  2. Trust takes years to win, moments to lose. 

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

  4. The trick of earning trust is to avoid all tricks. 

  5. People are never liars - in their own eyes. 

  6. Always trust your client - and cut the cards. 

  7. Never be dishonest, even if the client requests it. 

  8. Never promise anything. 

  9. Always keep your promise. 

  10. Get it in writing, but depend on trust. 


Rhonda's Revelations

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

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

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


Lessons from the Farm

  • Never use cheap seed.

  • A prepared soil is the secret of all gardeing.

  • Timing is critical. 

  • The plants that hold firmest are the ones that develop their own roots.

  • Excessive watering produces weakness, not strength. 

  • In spite of your best efforts, some plants will die. 


Marvin's Great Secrets

  1. Ninety of all illness cures itself - with absolutely no intervention from the doctor. Deal gently with systems that should cure themselves. 

  2. Repeatedly curing a system that can cure itself will eventually create a system that can't. 

  3. Every prescription has two parts: the medicine and the method of ensuring currect use. 

  4. Whatever the client is doing, advise something else. If what they've been doing hasn't solved the problem, tell them to do something else. 

  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 thatn know-when.


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

  • Hard Law Inverted: Some people do succeed as consultants, so it must be possible to deal with failure. 

  • Harder Law: Once you eliminate your number one problem, you promote number two. 

  • Hardest Law: Helping myself is even harder than helping others.  


  • Weinberg's Law of Fetch: Sometimes farfetched is only shortsighted. 

  • Weinberg's Law of Twins: Most of the time, for most of the world, no matter how hard people work at it, nothing of any significance happens. 

  • Weinberg's Law of Twins, Inverted: Some of the time, in some places, significant change happens - especially when people aren't working hard. 

  • Weinberg Test: Would you place your own life in the hands of this system? 


  • Bolden Rule: If you can't fix it, feature it. 

  • Gilded Rule: If you can't feature it, fake it. 

  • Building's Backward Basis: Things are the way they are because they got that way. 

  • Brown's Brilliant Bequest: Words are often useful, but it always pays to listen to the music (especially your own, internal music). 

  • Buffalo Bridle: You can make buffalo go anywhere juts so log as they want to go there. 

  • Credit Rule: You'll never accomplish anything if you care who gets the credit. 

  • Dealer's Choice: let them try whatever they like, but teach them how to protect themselves. Always trust your client. 

  • Edsel Edict: If you must have something new, take one, not two. 

  • Fast-Food Fallacy: No difference plus no difference plus no difference plus... eventually equals a clear difference. 

  • Fisher's Fundamental Theorem: The better adapted you are, the less adaptable you tend to be. 

  • Five-Minute Rule: Clients always know how to solve their problems, and always tell the solution in the first five minutes. 

  • Ford's Fundamental Feedback Formula: People can take any amount of water from any stream to use for any purpose desired. People must return an equal amount of water upstream from the point from which they took it. 

  • Gilded Rule Inversed: If something's faked, it must need fixing. 

  • Halstead's Variation: The biggest and longest lasting changes usually originate in attempts to preserve the very thing that ultimately changes most. 

  • Incongruence Insight: When words and music don't go together, they point to a missing element. 

  • Label Law: Most of us buy the label, not the merchandise. The name of the thing is not the thing. 

  • Rapsberry Jam Law: The wider you spread it, the thinner it gets. Influence or affluence, take your choice. 

  • Law of the Hammer: The child who receives a hammer for Christmas will discover that everything needs pounding. 

  • Law of the Jiggle: Less is more. 

  • Level Law: Effective problem-solvers may have many problems, but rarely have a single, dominant problem. 

  • Lone Ranger Fantasy: When the clients don't show their appreciation, pretend that they're stunned by your performance, but never forget that it's your fantasy, not theirs. 

  • Lynne's Law of Life: To be able to say yes to yourself, as a consultant, be able to say no to any of your clients. 

  • Main Maxim: What you don't know may not hurt you, but what you don't remember always does. 

  • New Law: Nothing new ever works.  

  • Number One Secret: Consulting ain't as easy as it looks. 

  • Orange Juice Test: We can do it - and this is how much it will cost. 

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

  • Potato Chip Principle: If you know your audience, it's easy to set triggers. 

  • Prescott's Pickle Principle: Cucumbers get more pickled than brine gets cucumbered. A small system that tries to change a big system through long and continued contact is more likely to be changed itself. 

  • Principle of Least Regret: Set the price so you won't regret it either way. 

  • Homer's Rule: Struggling to travel can make you stay at home.

  • Romer's Rule: Struggling to stay at home ca make you wanderer. 

  • 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. 

  • Spark'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. 

  • Study Guides: Keep it simple and not too detailed; you're a consultant, not a district attorney. Study for understanding, not for criticism. look for what you like in the present situation, and comment on it. 

  • 10% Promise Law: Never promise more than a 10% improvement. 

  • 10% Solution Law: If you happen to achieve more than 10% improvement, make sure it isn't noticed. 

  • 3rd Time Charm: Consultants tend to be the most effective on the third problem you give them. 

  • 3 Finger Rule: When you point a finger at someone, notice where the other 3 fingers are pointing. 

  • Time Bomb: Time wounds all heels. The surest way to waste time is to throw caution to the winds. 

  • Titanic Effect: The thought that disaster is impossible often leads to an unthinkable disaster. 

  • Tradeoff Treatment: You don't get nothin' for nothin'. Moving in one direction incurs a cost in the other. 

  • Volkswagen Verity: If you can't refuse it, defuse it. 

  • White Bread Warning: If you use the same recipe, you get the same bread. 

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

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