The Trusted Advisor – Best books on consultancy part 1

August 10, 2008

The Trusted Advisor
by David H. Maister, Charles H. Green, Robert M. Galford

Read more about this book…

This book by David Maister is centered around the concept of earning trust and confidence of clients. It is based on academic research of David Maister during and after his stay at Harvard University.

He has studied consultancy in many different industries, from accountancy, legal to financial industries.I will give a short review of this book with the key points, and some remarkable quotes and examples. Contains a lot of checklists. Highly recommended book!

The book consists of three parts:

  1. perspectives on trust
  2. the structure of trust building
  3. putting trust to work

Some key elements of this book are:

Part 1 – perspectives on trust

The more clients trust you, the more they will:

  • reach for your advice
  • be inclined to accept and act on you recommendations
  • share more information
  • pay your bills without questions
  • refer you to others
  • …..

Part 2 – the structure of trust building

This is the more formal part of the book

‘Trust equation: T = (C + R + I) / S

  • T=trustworthiness
  • C=Credibility          ‘I can trust what he says…’
  • R=Reliability           ‘I can trust her to…’
  • I=Intimacy              ‘I feel comfortable discussion this…’
  • S=Self-orientation  ‘I can trust that he cares about….’

This equation shows how the different elements of trust interrelate.

On Self-orientation:

  • there is no greater source of distrust than advisors who appear to be more interested in themselves than in trying to be of service to the client
  • How do we demonstrate a lack of self-orientation?:
    • letting the client fill in the empty space
    • not giving answers until the fight is earned to do so
    • saying you don’t know when you don’t know
    • ….

The development of Trust:

  • Engage: initial connection between advisor and client
  • Listen: earning the right; rational and passive listening; list of ‘What good listeners do’
  • Frame: encapsulating the client’s complex issues into a problem statement
  • Envision: envisioning an alternative reality
  • Commit’: the final stage of trust building. On managing expectations; resistance to commitment; joint commitment

Part 3: putting trust to work

Worth to look at:

  • ‘The Lieutenant Colombo Approach’ – useful metaphor for effective consulting. ‘Colombo’s style is informal …. he appears overwhelmed and underqualified…. of course, he is none of these things. …. his style is chosen … on one level, Colombo’s lesson is obvious. Set the client at ease and don’t overwhelm him with technical expertise…’
  • Cross selling
  • Quick impact list to gain trust

Visual thinking solves your business problems

July 28, 2008
by Jeroen de Miranda

The Back of the Napkin is a great book on Visual Thinking. It is written by Dan Roam.

Watching this video of his presentation at Google, you will learn how to use this method to solve many different business problems.

I highly recomment reading his book if you want to get a real understanding of Visual Thinking!

Authors@Google: Dan Roam

YouTube video

Some highlights of this show:

  • Who can use this: anybody!. Dan classifies people into three catagories:
    – ‘black pens’ (start to draw right away),
    – ‘yellow pens’ (drawing comments on drawings of others),
    – and ‘red pens’ (do not want to draw; but often turn out to have the best ideas. You have to challenge the ‘red pens’ to start drawing).
  • Core idea: reduce complexity of a problem by slicing it into 6 slices: the 6 ways we are seeing:
    – what,
    – where,
    – how much,
    – when,
    – how,
    – why
  • Use the corresponding drawing:
    – what: portrait representing a person or object
    – where: map
    – how much: chart
    – when: timeline
    – how: flowchart
    – why: multi-variable plot
  • Talking while drawing leads to better understanding of a problem
  • Dan gives examples of his work with Microsoft
  • Dan uses a drawing to give an explanation of the strategy behind the Yahoo takeover over by Microsoft

More resources on Visual Thinking:

I have used visual techniques in several workshops that I have facilitated; I now intend to extend my workshop tools by using these ‘Back of the Napkin’ techniques!

The Innovator’s Solution

July 21, 2008
by Jeroen de Miranda

This is perhaps the best book on innovation!

Examples of disruptive IT innovation are (IMO):

I can much better understand these disruptive innovations after having read this book!

From Newspapers Beware: Blogs are A Disruptive Technology – some key factors are:

  • ‘print publishing has overshot the needs of the market’
  • ‘Sure, the new versions aren’t as high quality (fact-checking, writing, spelling, design), but they get the job done’
  • ‘And eventually, the old model will have lost so many customers that it will no longer be able to support itself.’

At the website of the authors Clayton Christensen and Michael Raynor you can find some ready to use ideas and templates to shape new disruptive innovation ideas:

1. A Template for Shaping Disruptive Ideas :

  • Target nonconsumption
  • Leverage the low performance hurdle
  • Make it “foolproof.”
  • Lock in and take over

2. A Game Plan for Would-Be Disruptors : How to Turn the Innovator’s Dilemma into the Innovator’s Solution

More information on innovation at:

Enjoyed this post? Get more like it by subscribing to this blog: press the ‘subscribe now’ button below:

The Skilled Facilitator

July 20, 2008
by Jeroen de Miranda

I am reading ‘The Skilled Facilitator’: this is a great in-depth book on facilitating groups!

Amazon reviews at: Author: Roger Schwarz.


This book will really help me to become a better facilitator of groups. It contains a complete Systems-thinking based approach to facilitation.

Core statement: ‘The facilitator’s main task is to help the group increase effectiveness by improving its process and structure’.

It complements some of the ideas of Manager-Tools in a great way! There are some similar ideas; e.g. on WWWTALA sessions; dealing with emotions; setting the Agenda of meeting etc.
Of particular interest is the model for Interventions in groups.

It is highly recommended reading! You can find more at the site of Roger Schwarz; a summary statement from this website:

‘ (…) The Skilled Facilitator Approach: Outcomes and Key Features

Whether you are working with another person, a group or team, or an organization, The Skilled Facilitator approach will help you create the following outcomes:

  • Decisions that get better results
  • Decisions that people actively support
  • Decisions that save time
  • Better relationships – at work and in your personal life
  • More personal satisfaction and less stress
  • Learning that allows you and others to adapt and change where most others can’t

To achieve these outcomes, the Skilled Facilitator approach has a number of key features:

  • Exploring and Changing How We Think
  • The Group Effectiveness Model
  • A Clearly Defined Role
  • Applicable To a Wide Range of Roles
  • Explicit Core Values
  • Ground Rules for Effective Groups
  • The Diagnosis-Intervention Cycle
  • Non-Judgmental Thinking
  • A Process for Agreeing on How to Work Together
  • A Systemic Approach ‘

Has anybody read this book? Or other books on group facilitation? Please feel free to comment / contribute to this post!

The Skilled Facilitator Field Book has lots of practical examples and applications of TSF:


Amazon review .

Bottom line: ‘The Skilled Facilitator’ is a great book on group facilitation!

Bookmark and Share

More on Facilitation at this blog!

Enjoyed this post? Get more like it by subscribing to this blog: press the ‘subscribe now’ button below:

Web 2.0 and Management

10 Favorite Books on Business Strategy

April 18, 2008

‘Your favorite books on Business Strategy are?’

‘Which are your favorite books on Business Strategy; and what is special about them?

This is a question that I have posted on Below are my answers and the answers of some 15 LinkedIn members. This is a comprehensive overview of literature on this topic.

I have started with a new blog:

My favorites books on Business Strategy:

Strategy Maps by Robert Kaplan and David Norton.
They show very clearly how to operationalize the mission, vision and strategy of a company. It contains many striking examples. This book also gives you good ideas on how to define an effective Balanced Scorecard.

Executing Strategy by Mark Morgan, Raymond E. Levitt and William Malek (Harvard Business Press).
This excellent book presents the ‘Strategic Execution Framework’. It is a comprehensive and easy to use framework. It shows how to formulate a mission, vision and strategy, and how to translate this into a project portfolio which realizes the strategy. ‘

Favorite books on Business Strategy by LinkedIn users:

Shakti Kapoerchan

Student at RSM Erasmus University

I consider having a solid factual basis for strategy theory to be an excellent starting position for further exploration on the subject. A book which provided this for me, is ‘Contemporary Strategy Analysis’ by Robert M. Grant.

Mark Bouch

Director , Sykes Fairbairn

Hi Jeroen
To answer your question: Mastering the Management System (HBR article by Kaplan and Norton) and Competitive Strategy by Michael Porter.

But strategy execution is also worthy of consideration within question. Getting things done often provides greater challenge than the intellectual exercise of developing strateg. With this in mind I recommend you add ‘Execution – the discipline of getting things done’ by Bossidy and Charan to your reading list.

Best Regards
Mark Bouch

Will Pearce

Non-Profit Executive, Management Consultant, & Volunteer Board Member

Strategic Thinking / Visioning:
* Built to Last by Jim Collins

* Good to Great by Jim Collins
These two Collins books together do the best job of anything I’ve read of identifying the key characteristics of organizations that exhibit sustained competitive superiority.

Strategic Direction (Strategy Formation); both of these books will get you thinking about the specifics of your strategy in new, creative ways:
* What Really Works by William Joyce and Nitin Nohria
* Nonprofit Strategic Positioning: Decide Where to Be, Plan What to Do by Thomas A. McLaughlin

Strategic Planning:
* Team-Based Strategic Planning by C. Davis Fogg
Emphasizes the prerequisite environment/culture, facilitators & facilitation of the process, and process team dynamics.

For nonprofits:
* Strategic Planning for Nonprofit Organizations by Michael Allison and Jude Kaye
* Strategic Planning for Public and Nonprofit Organizations by John M. Bryson

For IT organizations:
* A Practical Guide to Information Systems Strategic Planning by Anita Cassidy

All of these books are available on

Mick Monroe

I’m here to meet experts that would volunteer to answer questions about their industry. I am an warm+ networker. 550+

Winning by Jack and Suzy Welch – In the first chapter he explains the importance of and way to develop consensus within an organization on the behaviors that must be in place to support the values that will enable an organization to accomplish it’s mission. Within two paragraphs in the first chapter or so it helped me understand how do develop and help others develop a mission statement that was effective at mobilizing organizational support.
One of those ‘airport book store purchases’ that ‘took my breath away’ before the plane ever lifted off.
Thank you Jack and Suzy Welch!

Malcolm Gabriel, MBA; MA (Ind Psy)

Visionary Leader in HR, OD & Change Management


I agree with others’ recommendations on great business strategy books, and I’ve read most of them. But, my personal favourites are the following, based not necessarily on methodologies for business strategies or strategic planning processes; rather on how one thinks about business strategies themselves:

Senge, P.M (1990). The Fifth Discipline. This timeless classic framed my systems-orientation and helped me appreciate causality in the market and industry; and more importantly appreciate that for every business strategy action (and inaction) there is a corresponding reaction (both intended and unintended).

Hamel, G. (2000). Leading the Revolution. This masterpiece argues that the only sustainable competitive advantage today is in an organization’s ability to innovate their business strategies (refered to as “business concept innovation”). It is truely the hardest challenge for competitors to replicate.

Baghai, M., et. al. (1999). The Alchemy of Growth. This one helped me think through business strategies as kickstarting and sustaining growth through time horizons; horizon 1 (typically “cash cow” core businesses), horizon 2 (emerging businesses), and horizon 3 (seeds of tomorrow’s businesses). The invaluable insight in this book is that organizational modelling, as well as talent and performance management should be different for each horizon, rather than a “one size fits all” approach.

Joseph Templin, CFP, CLU, ChFC, CAP

Head Geek, Unique Minds Consulting Group, LLC

The Art of War” by Sun Tzu.
“He who knows his enemy and himself shall always be victorous.
He who knows neither his enemy nor himself shall never taste victory, even if he fight a thousand battles.”

Michel Buffet

Founder and President at ETM Consulting Group

My favorite by far: Adrian Slyvotzky’s The Art of Profitability. This book proposes 23 business lessons – written as a the story of a manager seeking enlightenement from a wise master. An original and thought-provoking book.

AK Adapa

IT: Services & Strategy Consultant

Jeroen – You have given two of the best books on this topic and I like Executing Strategy book the most out of the two.

As one of the comments said, from time to time I come across pretty good HBR articles. The most recent HBR articles “Can you say what your strategy is?” and “Putting leadership back into strategy” are good reads as well.

“Competing for the Future” book by Hamel and Prahlad is a good read.

Mark Taylor

Director, Eriskay Associates

Hi Jeroen,
This is a great question and has attracted some great answers.

I am tempted to say that no book on strategy seems to adequately capture what the subject is really about but this is too harsh on some of the great writers out there.

My own view of Strategy Maps by K&N is pretty similar to yours, although many of my clients find this approach quite prescriptive. A broader and more fluid methodology is
Eden, C., Ackermann, F. (1998), Making Strategy: The Journey of Strategic Management, Sage, London, .
Similar to the K&N approach, it makes comprehensive use of mapping but, in my view, creates a far more realistic and less rigid set of outcomes. I use this a lot with clients and it delivers great results.

See the link below for some case studies.
Good luck with your work Jeroen.


Claudia Gramaccia

Studio Gramaccia

hi Jeroen,
the authors you quote are certainly miliar pillars of the business strategy thought
recently Michael Reynor and Pankaj Ghemawat have published interesting books. Have a look at them on
Cheers Claudia


Ashwin Ramaswamy

Awake Dreamer

There was a simple book I read called “The Tao of Leadership”.
I am yet to come across something as outstandingly brilliant.
It doesn’t cover much on strategy per se, but the principles of leadership enshrined are the necessary & sufficient conditions for success.
I think this is available on the web too

Ron Hurst

Manager, Teacher, Coach

I do not believe I saw The Art of the Long View by Peter Schwartz on the list above. I highly recommend this for its contribution to scenario planning.
Ron Hurst

Marc Jadoul

Market Development at Alcatel-Lucent

“The Art of War” by Sun Tzu and “Clausewitz on Strategy” (edited by Boston Consulting Group’s Strategy Institute)

Stephen Michaelson

Lean Six Sigma Project Leader; Business Process Analyst; Project Writer/ Tech Writer

W. Edward Deming’s _Out of the Crisis_ (1982). Yes, it’s dated, but still very relevant: the work of Deming and Joseph Juran after World War II is largely responsible for the success of leading quality- and customer-centered companies (like Toyota) today.
A concise description of Deming’s recommended business strategy is contained in his “14 Points for Management (…)


Ana Capucho

Account Manager at EMC & Restaurant Owner

Hi Jeroen,

These are my suggestions for you:
Blue Ocean Strategy (Harvard Business Press)

Strategy Safari — A Guide Tour Through The Wilds Of Strategic Management.
Both are a kind of “out of the box” business strategy to set you aside from mainstream or as I like to call it, tradicional management.

Ana Capucho

Steven Miller

Program Director, GTM Initiatives at IBM

I’ve studied quite a few books on strategy, and several authors stand out:
Clayton Christensen – it seems that the initial impact of this book series was a few leaders looking to disrupt for disruptions sake. This book series does a great job of helping the reader understand disruptive innovation and how to lever it.

Adrian Slywotzky – His books are invaluable as many businesses are seeing their legacy business models going by the wayside numerous disruptions rewrite the future: web 2.0, DVRs, open source, new media, online communites, SaaS, skyrocketing fossil fuel prices, … Leaders need to know how to select and evaluate business models to best take advantage of these disruptions.

Geoffrey Moore – I first read Crossing the Chasm while working a startup. I would love to see an update to this excellent series.

Jim Collins – Built to Last was one of the very first strategy books that I read and one that has stuck with me for a long time. Can be an eye opener to compare your current and past employers against the lessons of this book.

Tom DeMarco – the book I have in mind is ‘Peopleware’. A key part of strategy is your human resource strategy. This book’s lessons have guided my career for a long time.

Ram Charam’s books also have a lot to offer, with a focus on HR strategy — Execution, The Leadership Pipeline, …
The books above will help you:

  • Select a disruptive innovation
  • Select a business model
  • Bring the new innovation to market
  • Build a company that can thrive for a long long while
  • Attract and retain talent
  • Build Your Leadership Pipeline

Ram Motipally

Key Account Manager at Sasken Communication Technologies Ltd.

I am sure you have plenty of suggestions on books on Business strategy. The original favorite is always Porter’s strategy. But, I highly recommend Jack Welch’s Winning. It is a practical handbook for any manager including for strategy. Look forward to loads of common sense and very little of theoretical models.


My favorites are:

Strategy Maps by Robert Kaplan and David Norton.

Executing Strategy by Mark Morgan, Raymond E. Levitt and William Malek

More on Business Strategy:

Bookmark and Share

Enjoyed this post? Get more like it by subscribing to this blog: press the ‘subscribe now’ button below:

Web 2.0 and Management

Favorite books on Management Consultancy – LinkedIn Question

April 10, 2008

‘Favorite books on Management Consultancy?’

is is a question that I have posted on LinkedIn Q&A at:

(LinkedIn login is required to access this question)

‘What are your favorite books on Management Consultancy?
I am curious to learn from others at LinkedIn what you like and would recommend!
Some of my favorites are:

Here are some answers that can help you find the best books on Management Consultancy!

Some real new insights for me are – I will look into these books in the coming weeks and months:

Thanks to all contributors !!

Any additional ideas are welcome on this blog!


Karthik Rao

Project Management at Ernst & Young

Jack Walser, CGC

Experienced Project Management and Process Improvement Executive / Strategist

I’m a big fan of these:

The first book takes a look at systems thinking and can help you with roadblocks within an organization. The second provides a tool that will help you channel organizational resources to achieve a strategic goal.
Good luck!

George Dinwiddie

Owner, iDIA Computing, LLC and Computer Software Consultant and Coach

George Dinwiddie also suggests this expert on this topic: Jerry Weinberg

Leif Andersson

Owner, Proicio and Management Consulting Consultant

My favourites:

Jonathan Arnold

Energy Enterprise Solutions

  • I read David Maister’s “Managing the Professional Service Firm” , “The Trusted Advisor”, and “True Professionalism…” and would recommend these books to anyone at any level. I re-read the first book regularly.
  • Soneone gave me Goldsmith’s book. I think it was a hint, and it was very helpful.

Alco van Neck

Ing. at Getronics PinkRoccade

Jakub Nosek

Management consultant – Experienced problem solver

My favorites are:


Patrick Ahern

Branding and Employee Performance Expert, Professional Speaker – Partner, Brand Integrity, Inc.

  • Achieve Brand Integrity: Ten Truths You Must Know to Enhance Employee Performance and Increase Company Profits by Gregg Lederman. The book recently won the 2008 Axiom gold medal for Best Business Books in association with Inc.Magazine.

Jim Parnitzke

Independent Executive – Enterprise Architecture, Business Intelligence, BPM, CDI/MDM

  • Plenty of terrific ideas and books already mentioned, all are worthwhile. A little off-beat, but no less valuable to me was Barbara Minto’s book labeled “The Pyramid Principle – Logic in Writing and Thinking” first published in 1987. Since we (management consultants) live in the world full of abstractions, creating a powerful, compelling, and concise message to communicate our thinking is pretty much fundamental blocking and tackling. This is especially true if the subject matter is complex or not well known to our clients or management peers. Heavily recommended for anyone who makes a living in the world of thought and communication (this is our business right?), and certainly more approachable than the Rhetoric (yes that one – Aristotle <g>)
Gail Bubenick, Psy.D.,Ph.D.

Owner, Sierra Communications, Inc.

Darryl Dioso

Principal Consultant, Resource Management Solutions Group – Sales Recruitment | Sales Training | Sales Assessments

  • Management Consulting” by Biswas and Twitchell – Let me know what I was getting into.
  • “Dr. Deming” by Aguayo – Not really “on Management Consultancy” but he’s one of my (and I’m sure a few of you) MC ‘idols’.
  • “The Goal” by Goldratt and Cox – A book about Process Improvement that I couldn’t put down…How crazy is that?

Roberta Chinsky Matuson

Owner, Human Resource Solutions and Management Consulting Consultant



Dorina Grossu

Certified Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt – Program Management, Quality Management, Business Process Re-Engineering


Bookmark and Share

Recommended business books – using LibraryThing

March 26, 2008


Photo from ‘bcnbits‘ under Creative Commons rights.


I recommend some business books using the site

It has some interesting features:

Main benefit for me is to quickly see what books in a specific field have the best rating.

Combining these recommendations with those of gives you further ideas on what books are best to buy!