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The Dorset House Quarterly Interviews

Gerald M. Weinberg
Author of Roundtable on Technical Leadership: A SHAPE Forum Dialogue

ISBN: 978-0-932633-51-4  
©2002  176 pages   softcover  
$15.95 (plus shipping)

DHQ: The second book in the Roundtable series, Roundtable on Technical Leadership, is now in stock. How is this book different from its predecessor, Roundtable on Project Management?

WEINBERG: They are the same only in that they follow the same conversational format, consisting of opinions contributed by true leaders in the field. But the topics are entirely different -- there is no overlap except in the sense that good sense overlaps other good sense.

Naturally we'd like people to read all of our books, and if you have read Roundtable on Project Management, you know how much you're going to love this volume. But there is absolutely no precedence between them, in either order. So read one, read both -- it's reader's choice.

DHQ: In the introduction to Roundtable on Technical Leadership, you write that it is an ideal supplement to your book Becoming a Technical Leader. How so?

WEINBERG: Most of the contributors to Roundtable on Technical Leadership have read Becoming a Technical Leader, and many have taken our workshops on technical leadership. They have put these ideas and concepts to work, and this Roundtable gives them an opportunity to share their honed-in-practice advice about those leadership principles.

DHQ: What makes a technical leader?

WEINBERG: The key element is whether technical people follow the person or not. The requirements are sound technical knowledge (including awareness of where that knowledge is limited) and a number of personal characteristics, as described in the book.

DHQ: Are technical leaders managers?

WEINBERG: Technical leadership has nothing, really, to do with job titles. All the examples illustrate people following a person's lead because that person is a sound, well-informed thinker. People might choose among several designs because the technical leader supports one design with well-reasoned facts. They might kill a project because a technical leader shows clearly the consequences of continuing along the present path. Always reliable facts and clear, unbiased thinking -- those are the common elements.

DHQ: In this book, nearly forty contributors offer separate comments on a wide range of topics. What are the advantages or disadvantages of that format versus having a single narrative voice?

WEINBERG: Well, there is a single voice, in the sense that these discussions are monitored by me, and the choicest parts were selected by Marie Benesh, James Bullock, and me. Then they were edited lightly, by us and by Dorset House, to make sure they were completely clear. We have preserved the conversational flow, but this is not some random collection of ravings and flamings. It's a conversation of the highest quality -- such as you rarely encounter.

DHQ: You recently released More Secrets of Consulting, a stand-alone update on what you've learned about consulting since the publication of The Secrets of Consulting in 1985. What's new about your approach in More Secrets?

WEINBERG: More Secrets, first of all, contains more secrets -- new and different. Secondly, More Secrets uses the metaphor of a consultant's tool kit -- mental and emotional tools you can always carry with you in your consulting life. So, you can read the two books in any order, or alternate chapters between them, or read them backwards, or any way you want. That's what it's designed for -- reading pleasure and profit.

DHQ: Tell us about your book on writing.

WEINBERG: I've finished a first draft, and the book is now ripening before I'll attempt a second draft. A little consultation with Dorset House's editor-in-chief, Wendy Eakin, got me to rethinking the whole project, and I'm still in that thinking stage. I've always thought it's a good idea to think before publishing a book.

DHQ: Rumor has it that the last session of your long-running Problem Solving Leadership Workshop will be held in September. What prompted this decision to discontinue it?

WEINBERG: I'm getting older, and it's harder for me to sustain my highest level of presence through an intensive week of workshopping. I'll continue to try to find ways of working with people that are within my capabilities. Right now, I'm encouraging people to participate in the AYE (Amplifying Your Effectiveness) Conference in November, which is a little shorter than a full Weinberg & Weinberg workshop but is chock-full of great presenters and participants.

DHQ: Who will be at AYE -- and what on earth is a wiki?

WEINBERG: I've just sent out a newsletter featuring some of our most charismatic presenters: Edie and Charlie Seashore, Jean McLendon, and Naomi Karten (another Dorset House author). If people want to be informed about the conference, they can e-mail me (hardpretzel@earthlink.net) and ask to be put on our e-mailing list. They can visit our Website (www.ayeconfer ence.com), and also check our lively wiki, which is a forum for conference participants and prospects -- a conference-before-the-conference.

DHQ: What's new in New Mexico?

WEINBERG: We're up in the mountains, now, alongside the Pecos Wilderness in the Santa Fe National Forest. We've had to evacuate once already this summer for the Dalton fire, which was less than two miles away. Right now, there are at least three fires near enough to put smoke in our air, but we're keeping our fingers crossed, waiting for the onset of the monsoon season. A couple of inches of rain could make a big difference to a lot of people. Right now, I hear a helicopter overhead carrying slurry to dump on one of the fires. Adios, amigos.

DHQ: Adios, Jerry! Thank you!

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