Build Your Own Learning Culture

PMI Delaware Valley Chapter

Laura Dallas Burford is the founder of LAD Enterprizes, a management consulting firm that partners with consultants as well as internal and external consulting organizations to successfully build the operational and delivery aspects of their practices. Laura appreciates feedback on her articles and can be reached at She is the author of Project Management for Flat Organizations.

Recently, I was approached by a frustrated senior project manager who felt, as the saying goes, that he was neither fish nor fowl because he was working at a company for which he was not the right fit. He had taken a “consulting” position after being laid off, but he realized his role was one of a subcontractor. He was taking orders and performing hands-on project work. No one was interested in his opinion, and he was not leveraging his knowledge or advisory skills. He enjoyed working as a freelancer, but he needed more stimulation and knew he needed to change perceptions before moving to his next gig. He wanted to be a “true consultant” and be known as trusted project management advisor.

His question to me was, “How do I move up the consultant’s ladder and become recognized as a trusted advisor?” This definitely is a tough question because there is no magic bullet, no one right answer. We discussed moving from a subcontractor role to that of trusted advisor by reviewing trusted advisor key characteristics and traits. We started by focusing on building his knowledge and skills, as well as developing plans to facilitate efforts to become recognized as an expert. The more we spoke, he realized the importance of taking responsibility for his own fate and the need to build his own learning culture.

What is a learning culture? Culture …

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