The book begins with the premise that just because someone is paying you for advice doesn't mean they actually want your advice. It goes on to argue that successful consulting is not about fixing problems so much as navigating contradictions.
The other profession that deals intimately with contradictions between what people say, feel, and do is psychotherapy. I've often thought that consulting is therapy for businesses - a curious kind of therapy that by consensus is never explicitly discussed. Weinberg learned a lot from his excursions in the psychotherapy world, and this book is his best distillation of it.
An example is the difference between how different types of salesmen operate. Those that sell to individuals (or families) must navigate through a very personal and emotional process, whereas salesmen that sell to corporations (aka: "sales professionals") must balance corporate bureaucracy and personal one-on-one relationships.
In all the cases, it is a fascinating dynamic to observe and learn from.
Not sure yet, but you can check it for yourself.
The beginning is available online on http://www.smashwords.com/extreader/read/31631/9/the-secrets...
In addition to Weinberg's writings, Steve Friedl's advice on consulting is terrific: http://www.unixwiz.net/techtips/be-consultant.html
Or, of course, you might be about to learn something, since sticking beans up your nose is a metaphor you chose for something you think is so stupid you would never actually try it.
There are a couple of traps in consulting. One is the trap where the consultant believes that they have a bird's-eye view of the problem to be solved, when they're actually looking through a keyhole. (Security-related consulting falls into this trap often.) The other trap is where the consultant's own experience leads them to conclude that their approach is the only right way to do a particular thing. Infrastructure-related consulting has fallen so far into that particular trap that I question whether it'll ever make it back out again. For example: Windows servers! Linux servers! Windows servers! Linux servers! or, smart switches! Dumb switches! etc.
Regardless of whether someone else on the team writes easily readable, tested, working code - these consultants will inevitably complain it's done incorrectly and refactor it to their vision. This wastes time and money, and more often than not I've seen it lead to regression bugs in the software.
Yes, I'm learning that it's just as important to question what delusions I may be operating under when suspecting my client of same.
Believe me, there are times when you run into people who have ideas that are so dumb, you don't have to try them to know they won't work.
Sometimes people just don't appreciate that you're trying to help them, and need to learn from experience (myself included).
I've also learned to appreciate some further advice I received and desperately needed to hear: convincing someone of something takes a lot more than emphatically stating a logical argument.
in the next step they claim i missunderstood the question, the question was not really about "what to do with the beans", it was more about "how should we stick them up our noses in the best way"
Naturally they'll hit up the googles and get excited when they see that someone else had that exact problem before. But then, instead of a solution, they are presented with 15 answers that all say "you're doing it wrong".
This is why my favorite answers are those that say something along the lines of, "technically, the answer to your question is... but the fact that you're having this problem may be an indicator that there's a better way."
A current example is a question I asked recently: How do you safely use variable table/column names with SQLite in Python?  I want to write a slightly high-level wrapper over Python's SQLite API, so I need to be able to escape table/column names. The first response is one of Stack Exchange's top users telling me the premise of my question is "evil".
It's very frustrating.
"It's simply a beans-and-noses situation"
"Are you enjoying your nasal-based legume implantation experience?"
"And so the bean starts its wayward journey"
Brilliant article - what a great way of putting things.
Have you considered writing a humor column? I am sure it would be well received. That was a truly funny article.
Very often people are intent on doing something that seems stupid to you, but smart to them. In that situation they really don't want to be told that they are wrong and the best thing you can do is stand nearby, ready to dial 911.
Sometimes the only "right" response is "I would not have thought of doing it that way. What can I do to help you make it go well?"
I recommend a veggie special + anchovies. If you don't want all the veggies anchovy and black olives works too. Don't combine anchovy with pepperoni or sausage as its salt overload.
All too often, the client's motivation is FUD, and to continue the analogy, they spend all their money on what they hope are magic beans. When no beanstalks grow from their nostrils, they discover too late that they’ve no money left for bean removal surgery - or anything else. So moving on, for the consultant, is not so much a choice as a necessity.
I wonder what they did -- that web site is not responsive at the moment.
Just web site uptime or something else?
Unfortunately, the 80/20 rule applies to consulting too, so you often find yourself in the situation where 80% of your revenue comes from the guy with the beans.