The Alliance

A friend of mine recommended me to read “The Alliance” by Reid Hoffman (LinkedIn cofounder), Ben Casnocha & Chris Yeh. The subtitle is “managing talent in the networked age” and the book has 224 pages. It was released in 2014.



The book has 8 chapters and they are:

  1. Employment in the Networked Age
  2. Tours of Duty
  3. Building Alignment in a Tour of Duty
  4. Implementing Transformational Tours of Duty
  5. Employee Network Intelligence
  6. Implementing Network Intelligence Programs
  7. Corporate Alumni Networks
  8. Implementing an Alumni Network

The concept of lifetime employment that were the norm during the industrial era is over. But how should it be replaced in the networked age? This book claims to have the answer to that question. Employers and employees need a new relationship framework where they can make promises to one another that they can keep. The Alliance provides this framework for moving from a transactional to a relational approach.

In an alliance, the manager can speak openly about what the company is willing to invest in the employee and what it respect in return. Likewise, the employee honestly can talk about the type of growth he or she seeks (skills, experience etc.). A sports team doesn’t assume lifetime employment, and yet trust, mutual investment & benefit can apply. Adopting the alliance is ideally a companywide endeavor lead by the CEO.

The phrase tours of duty comes from the military and refers to a single specific assignment or deployment. They are three tours of duty:

  • Rotational – The rotational tour is usually a structured finite program for entry-level employees. For example investment banks have a two year analyst program.
  • Transformational – A transformational tour is personalized. The central promise is that the employee will have the opportunity to transform his or her career and the company.
  • Foundational – Exceptional alignment of employer and employee is the hallmark of the foundational tour. For example Jony Ive at Apple. The company has become the foundation of the person’s career and even life. By definition company founders are on foundational tours.

Great companies have specific missions that differ from those of their competitors. For a foundational tour of duty, the employee’s and the company’s mission almost overlap to 100%.

”The most meaningful way to differentiate your company from your competitors, the best way to put distance between you and the crowd, is to do an outstanding job with information. How you gather, manage, and use information will determine whether you win or lose.” – Bill Gates

Thus, the alliance at work: ”growing their professional networks helps employees transform their career; employee networking helps the company transform itself”. You should encourage networking!

Final chapters are about alumni networks, why should you have it? One reason that is given, it that you want old employees to ”boomerang” back for another tour of duty, now ”spiced up” with ideas from the outside world. Remember: ”a business without loyalty is a business without long-term thinking.”


This book has an specific idea and it presents it well! The Alliance is already taking place in for example Silicon Valley and the authors expect its principles to spread to other industries across the globe. I really hope they are right! If you want to read more you can go to this site.

All the best,
 Tomas from TheAgileist


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