Career development planning means different things to different people and there is a good chance you are thinking about moving into or out of Corporate Services.

Counter-intuitive as it may sound, you can use the Corporate Services silo structure to help you design a career shift. And because that structure is based on a particular view of the human being the career switch you plan will also be based on a fundamental vision of the human being.


Let’s have a look.

There is a way of looking at the human being that suggests it comprises three, interwoven subsystems. Two of them are polar to one another and other one mediates. These subsystems are spread throughout the body. Their centres are in the…

  • head (nerve-sense),
  • limbs (motor-metabolic), and
  • chest (rhythmic-circulatory).

What is the Purpose of these Systems?

The nerve-sense system, centred in the head, comprises the brain and nervous system and is associated with thought, thinking and perception.

It is cool and still; when we walk our head remains motionless, we are the only animal whose head does not bob when we walk. We speak of the need for a cool head in a crisis, having cool rationality.

The motor-metabolic system, centred on the lower torso and limbs, consists of the digestive organs and metabolic system and is concerned with nutrition as well as action and will.

It is hot; our digestive system is a little furnace consuming all that enters it, and it supports the will and impulse to action. We speak of a fiery will, a fire in our belly.

The rhythmic-circulatory system, centred in the chest, comprises the heart, circulatory system and lungs and represents feeling.

It serves as the mediator between the other two systems. You take in cold air, warm it in your lungs and exchange oxygen for carbon dioxide. It transforms venous blood into arterial blood. We breathe rhythmically, our heart beats and, if it stops, we die. We speak of a warm heart.

Metropolis and Your Career Development Planning

Fritz Lang’s 1927 classic “Metropolis” captured the central role of this mediation. He identified the need for “heart” people to mediate between the “head” people who owned the corporation and the “hand” people who worked within it.

Thought, Feeling and Will:

  • we think with our head,
  • our heart and breathing are affected when our emotions go awry, and
  • we put our thoughts and feelings into action through our hands and feet.

Rather than think of your career change in terms of a job, try this. In terms of your career development planning are you a thinker? a feeler? or a doer?

The Organisational Corollary

We could easily look at an organisation and draw an analogy similar to that of Fritz Lang, that the head is the Board and Senior Management, the motor is operations and the mediator is middle management.

And if this article were about middle management, that’s exactly how we would frame it.

But you can also look a little deeper into the organisation and explore how this threefold model can help us understand Corporate Services and, through that, your career development planning.

Taking the three primary functions usually amalgamated into corporate services: IT, HR and Finance, we can draw the following analogies

  • IT: nerve-sense system
  • HR: motor-metabolic system
  • Finance: rhythmic-circulatory system

Unexpected? An Explanation and Application

IT and HR are often considered to be polar to each other, one has to do with soft and warm, the other to do with cold and hard but it goes further than that.

IT is modelled on the brain (processing power) and nervous system (the cables that thread their way through an organisation and the signals that pass along them). Cool, ultra-rational and completely lacking empathy (that’s IT, not the people working there…).

HR, on the other hand is where the action is. Everything in an organisation, especially a service organisation, happens through people, all the ideas in the world are of no use if there are not employees to interact with clients, to put them into action.

Finance, perhaps surprisingly, acts as the mediator between the two. It regulates the impulses of each through budget controls and ensures, through business case assessment, that the two polar opposites work together as much as they can. I know, you never thought Finance could have a heart but there you go…

Career Development Planning as Therapy

Changing your career is a form of therapy. It should remove some obstacles and make you feel better. If it doesn’t, your career plan is pointing you in the wrong direction.

Use the next few sentences to help you decide if you want to work in the head of an organisation, its will or to help mediate between them. But first…

A common problem in individuals occurs when feelings and thoughts are in conflict and thus cripple the will impulses. Nothing happens.

You can see this in a service organisation. Finance and IT cannot agree and HR, representing the people who do the work, is crippled.

Sometimes a person gets stuck in thinking activity which disassociates from feeling and compulsively drives the will. Obsessive Compulsive Disorders are generated. A technology-driven change programme is a good example of this type of situation.

The key to this is to use these pictures to help you choose how you want to work in your organisation.

The diagram below shows the therapeutic process for an individual. Cast your eye over it, substituting IT for Thought, HR for Will Impulses and Finance for Feeling. Think about how you work best. Are you a thinker, a feeler or a doer? If you were to frame your career development plan in these terms, where would you lie?

Threefold nature of the human being
diagram c/- Matt Davies

The article you’ve just read is a thought experiment. Use the model to reframe Corporate Services and help the three subsystems truly empower the organisation. It can also help you reframe your career development planning.

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