The Value of Informal Director Education

It’s quite easy, as an aspiring or emerging Board Member, to get caught in the trap of thinking that you have to keep doing courses, attending seminars, and spending lots of money in order to learn about being a Director and to stay at the top of your governance game as a valuable – and valued – Board Member.

Thankfully you don’t have to carve out lots of time and a lot of money for your Director education. Today we’ll be exploring the value of informal methods of Director development, along with some options and ideas that you can use as part of your continued Board and governance education.

The Value

With self-directed, informal education you have control over what, when, and how you learn. This keeps it engaging and fun (yes, that is possible). It also means that you can stop learning something when it doesn’t feel right or it isn’t the right time to continue.

You decide what subject matter to study.
Want to read more about strategy? Directors duties? Leading change? When considering what your next learning subject will be, consider what takes your interest, what you feel might be valuable to learn more about given the organisation and/or Board circumstance (now or in the near future), and/or where you feel you have a knowledge gap. These are all great cues to inform your subject matter to study.

You decide what time of day or week you study.
Informal education is largely low or no cost. However, it does mean that you need to invest time into your learning. Thankfully, you get to choose when you invest this time; once a week, a little every day, or a whole weekend once a quarter. It’s your schedule! The kicker is to just make sure learning features, consistently, somewhere in your schedule.

You decide what study method(s) to use: reading, listening, watching?
This really comes down to personal preference. I have a preference for reading so I can digest and understand the content in my own time and style. With all of the information delivery options we have available to us, there really is no excuse not to be learning.

Incorporating Continual Learning into your Life

Putting some structure around your learning, it’s worth considering your Director learning requirements across three main areas: your area of expertise, the business and governance landscape, and personal growth and leadership as a Board Member. I go a bit more into these areas in this article here.

As for incorporating learning into every day life, it’s easy once you make the commitment to yourself. You need to find something that works for you, your schedule, your lifestyle, and your needs. The hardest part of informal learning is your intention and commitment. The intention to do it and the commitment to incorporate consistent learning into your life.

You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.

It’s your choice. Will you make the one that’s best for you?

I aim for 60 minutes of learning each day. Currently I read a lot, but I am also a heavy user of podcasts and audio books. It allows me to listen while I’m doing activities that don’t need a lot of my brain for concentration: washing the dishes, cooking, getting ready for work in the morning, commuting, exercising, and cleaning.

A few learning tools that I use regularly are:

  • Podcasts (Board Shorts Podcast is my first recommendation!)
  • Webinars (BoardPro hosts high quality webinars and has an extensive library of previous webinars and other resources)
  • Books (free to borrow through your local library or on the Libby app; Kindle options through Amazon are also affordable)
  • Audio Books (Audible or Libby which is free through your local library)
  • Email newsletters from quality content providers
  • Talking to subject matter experts in my network

Take growing your knowledge and understanding into your own hands. Be proactive with staying informed. Encourage your Board and fellow Board Members to do group learning activities (you can check out some ideas in this post).


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