A profession? An ongoing debatePosted: May 18, 2015
May 18, 2015
From time to time, among those of us involved with aspects of the intelligence business, there arises a discussion about whether or not intelligence, competitive, governmental, strategic, military and/or law enforcement, is or should be a true “profession”.
Not surprisingly, I have some views on some views on the subject. They come out of two areas: the fact that prior to entering competitive intelligence, I was a practicing attorney licensed in several states as well as before US Supreme Court, and that I studied and was involved in regulatory legal and economic issues in practice.
The result of these experiences and education is that my personal view of a profession is that it has at least these 5 key elements:
- Encompassing a defined body of knowledge.
- Having that body of knowledge transmitted through a formal educational process, which may include hands-on experience, say internships. And that educational process is licensed.
- Requiring approved (licensed) continuing education courses as long as you are a member of the profession.
- Being personally licensed after some standardized examination/application process.
- Being subject to practice rules established by and discipline imposed by a body, governmental or private with some quasi-government involvement. That discipline can reach up to the removal of the ability to earn a living in that profession.
The rationales for licensing a profession vary. The most common, and often pointed to, is to assure protection of the public by assuring access to high-quality providers, particularly where the public cannot judge the quality of the providers. This is the reason that doctors are licensed – as are hair stylists. The least discussed, but perhaps the most common in operation, is to produce a quasi-monopoly, that is to limit competition. Think – well just think. In any case, one cannot practice a profession without a current license.
Between you and me, I think that there are two other reasons underlying assertions that intelligence is/should be a profession:
- To establish some sort of prestige or cachet for what you are doing; and
- To become entitled, under the rules of whatever organization you work for, to additional training, career advancement, or just more money.
As you can probably see, from the way I have (perhaps unfairly) framed the debate, my views are anti-profession – although to be honest, I am so used to the term “intelligence professional”, that I will keep using it, even though it is not technically accurate.