The Value of Informal Director Education
It’s quite easy, as a new or aspiring 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 director 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 utilise as part of your continued director education.
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 if it’s an incredibly dry and boring topic (that is OK for you to opt out of learning).
You decide what subject matter to study.
Want to read more about strategy? Directors duties? Leading change? Whatever takes your interest, what you feel might be required to learn given the organisation and/or board circumstance (now or in the near future), or where you feel you have a knowledge gap are all great places to start when considering what your next learning subject will be.
You decide what time of day or week you study.
Informal education is largely low or no cost. However, this 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 in there somewhere.
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. 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. The intention to do it and the intention to actually incorporate it 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 Audible. 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 utilise regularly are:
- Audible (or any app that reads books to you while you can be doing something else)
- Email newsletters
- Flipboard App
- Social Media (in strict moderation – there is a lot of crap to weed through to get to the good stuff)
- Radio (Again, in moderation. I feel that news is delivered in a negative, catastrophic manner intended to incite hate, intolerance and fear.)
- Talking to subject matter experts in my network
Take your own continual education 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 of these out in last week’s post).