During my years as a university student, a friend and I took up scuba diving. On one dive, I found that I was a bit more congested than I had realized and had difficulty equalizing the pressure in my ears. We fastidiously observed the rule to never dive alone and, not wanting to disappoint my diving buddy, I continued to dive deeper. To make a long story short, I damaged my eardrum and eventually found my way to an Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist at my health clinic.
Fortunately, my eardrum had responded well to his prescribed course of treatment and as he declared me fit and ready to dive again, he added a kind word of advice: “I suggest to all my patients who dive that they wear earplugs when diving.”
I was stunned. Our scuba certification course instructors had made it clear that the last thing you want to do is wear earplugs when diving. At best, your ear would not be able to adjust to the difference in pressure. Depending upon the design, you might also end up with your ear plugs embedded further in your ear than would be healthy! (I see these days there are some pressure adjusting ear plugs available; not so in those days.)
How could this physician have been so wrong? To put this in perspective, the event took place in the mid-1970s and the specialist looked to be nearing retirement. Given that his initial training had been somewhere between 30 to 35 years earlier, I am very confident that scuba was not a major recreational pastime during his initial training!
Every profession, be it health care, engineering, law, accounting or a host of others, has come to recognize that the body of knowledge in their respective fields is growing and advancing. These days, it does so more rapidly than ever. Consequently, professional regulatory organizations monitor ongoing professional development of their members.
But what of those who provide services for which there is no such regulatory body? My current field of practice is one such area. As a consultant specializing in Policy Governance®, there is no regulatory body monitoring my ongoing professional development. Despite this, my colleagues and I at The Governance Coach™ recognize the critical nature of staying up-to-date in this evolving field.
Professional development isn’t just reading the latest, although that is certainly important. It also involves sharing with the community of practice and working together to advance the body of knowledge and to test our own ideas and perspectives.
Usually, when I come across a board that has been misinformed about some aspects of Policy Governance, they have had consultation from someone who has not had the proper initial training and/or has not been engaged in the Policy Governance community. Currently, that community is Govern for Impact, formerly the International Policy Governance Association, which has professional development opportunities for consultants and practitioners alike.
If you are engaging a consultant to provide Policy Governance services, ensure that your consultant has the right initial training and has been staying current.