A phenomenal expansion of knowledge and technology has accompanied the advance of human history leading to the complex, modern world in which live today, a world where specialization is a way of life. Organizations specialize in rendering a few types of related goods and services while individuals specialize in single career fields which employ small sets of related skills. It is true that many comforts and benefits enjoyed by modern civilizations depend heavily on the increased efficiency and productivity achieved through specialization, but specialization also results in an important dilemma. When one is occupied (or preoccupied) with one field of knowledge, his/her exposure to other fields decreases or is nonexistent. By way of analogy, it seems intuitively clear that no field of view is infinite. Each is bounded. Furthermore, scope decreases as resolution increases. To observe finer details one must zoom in on smaller regions. Trade-offs must be made, because viewing capacity is limited.
Even highly-experienced executives and top-level managers can find themselves either overwhelmed by or out of touch with the profusion of specialized functions and skills which comprise contemporary organizations and the world community. This state can be equally true for those seasoned professionals whose careers have been focused on this very issue through such work as organization design, industrial engineering, job analysis, career pathing, skills inventorying, education and job placement. It can become difficult not only to know what fields and specialties exist but also to grasp the "big picture". It becomes hard to see either the forest or the trees. The effects of this bewildering array of human activity are even more pronounced when it comes to the young who are just beginning to make important decisions about their futures and their careers.
We believe that it is far more difficult to get a grasp on the occupations and their interrelationships than most of us have been led to believe, or for that matter, are willing to let on. It is this notion that first sparked our interest in skills inventories nearly four decades ago and which fuels our work on the HURIS® Skills Directory today. A joke went around some time back that went something like: "If you're not confused then you must not know what's going on". We have tried to face this confusion head on by attempting to develop a simple framework that accommodates the full spectrum of human abilities and endeavors. We have settled on eight (8) primary groups, referred to as segments, which represent the highest or most abstract level of skill classification.