In the early 1990’s the phrase “intelligent enterprise” denoted a new paradigm in organisational management, which recognised that “knowledge management” was key to a company’s success. James Brian Quinn (Intelligent Enterprise, 1992, Free Press,) propounded the view that an intelligent enterprise must develop and deploy the three core components of its human (intangible) resources – culture; capabilities (skills and knowledge); and connections – rather than solely managing its physical assets.
In 1995, three career scholars, Michael B. Arthur, Priscilla Claman and Robert J. De Philippi, took up the challenge to apply these organisational competencies, to the career of the individual and came up with the idea that individual competency in the workplace is also comprised of three corresponding forms of knowing – knowing why you want to work (and how that fits with the company culture), knowing how you work (the skills and knowledge you bring) and knowing who (the interpersonal relationships that you add to a firm’s networking capacity.) ( Arthur, Claman and Philippi, 1995, Academy of Management Executive, Vol 9. No.4).
In the past twenty five years it has become common practice for management executives to attend to the 3 C’s for the benefit of the organisation – but as corporate business has changed, individuals have had to face the reality that a “job for life” is no longer guaranteed in a world where the external demands often dictate that workforces must change and adapt and human capital is often a disposable asset. As Arthur, Claman and Philippi predicted, the intelligent career owner has to take personal ownership of their working life, which may move through difference stages and phases of development – exploring mutual benefits, finding learning opportunities towards occupational excellence , seeking empowerment, negotiating short-term task-focused commitment rather than life-long loyalty.
Another term, the “boundaryless career” was also applied to careers in the early 90’s by Arthur and Philippi as they explored the implications of this more mobile approach to employment, (Arthur, 1994, Journal of Organizational Behaviour, Vol 15, No.4, pp. 295-306); Arthur and Rousseau 1996, A Boundaryless Career: a new employment principle for a new organizational era. Oxford University Press) and it was also in this era that Professor Arthur (Suffolk University, Boston, MA) collaborated with Professor Polly Parker (University of Queensland Australia) and Professor Norman Admunson (University of British Columbia, Canada) to develop a exploratory exercise – the Intelligent Career Card Sort® – to help career owners to navigate the challenges of the new working paradigm.
The ICCS® has been empirically tested and peer-reviewed in many career and organisational journals over the last twenty years and was found to be helpful at graduate and post-graduate levels of study, as well as with clients in later-stage career changes. Many participants favour the card sort over other forms of post-modern, narrative career counselling – it’s fun and user-friendly – and a current study is investigating its performance compared to more traditional, psychometric-based career exploration for different adult populations.
You can find out more about the theory behind the ICCS® and read some inspiring case studies of intelligent career moves in An Intelligent Career: taking ownership of your work and your life, by Michael Arthur, Svetlana Khapova and Julia Richardson, 2017,Oxford University Press.