In A World of Insecure Not-Engaged Employees, Reid Hoffman’s The Alliance Suggests a Solution – Alliances with “Tours of Duty”


“Maximizing employee security is a prime company goal.” Earl Willis, Manager of Employee Benefits, General Electric – 1962.
Quoted in The Alliance: managing talent in the networked age, by Reid Hoffman (Cofounder, Chairman, Linkedin) and Ben Vacnocha and Chris Yeh

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The AllianceI’ve been waiting for the book to be published. It’s out now – the new book, The Alliance, by Reid Hoffman (and others). There’s a terrific slide deck up summarizing the book’s key premise, and suggested strategies, in this Business Insider article: Brilliant Management Advice From LinkedIn’s Billionaire FounderAnd, you can read Bob Morris’ well-written and informative review of this new book at his web site, here.

Reid Hoffman quotes that sentence above from 1962, and reminds us just how much the world has changed from those days of “maximizing employee security.”

Here is the fact: it is an every person for himself/herself era. No sugarcoating over this. No job is secure. And thus, employee engagement is not rising (how is genuine employee engagement even possible in such a world?), and the whole world just seems a little to a whole lot insecure. You know, the VUCA world: Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity.

In his book, Mr. Hoffman states: “The old model of employment was a good fit for an era of stability.” Yep. And, it is definitely not feeling very stable these days. Mr. Hoffman describes this new uncertain world this way:

Even if your boss has no reason at all, you can be fired.
You just experienced the fundamental disconnect of modern employment: the employer-employee relationship is based on a dishonest conversation.

So, the whole framework for work needs to change:

Employers, managers, and employees need a new relationship framework where they make promises to one another they can actually keep.

There is some pretty noticeable irony in this book. Here’s a quote from early in the book:

Employees fail to invest in their current position because they’re constantly scanning the marketplace for new opportunities.

And the place they are scanning for such new opportunities is pretty much LinkedIn. And, they are all attending sessions on how to update their LinkedIn profiles so that they will be more easily found by a next new possible employer.  (I went to one of those sessions, and totally re-worked my LinkedIn profile.  Take a look at my profile here.  Maybe you have a job that needs to be done that I could help you with!)

It is a vicious circle.   Mr. Hoffman describes how the world is insecure. He helps add to the insecurity. And, now, he proposes something to do about it.

(I don’t blame him for this – if he had not founded a LinkedIn, someone else would have founded something similar. The technology makes it inevitable).

My reaction after reading the reviews of this book, the slide deck mentioned above, Bob’s review, and my own early dive into the book and my sense of how “right on” this book is, says that it definitely worth a very careful look. It is now at the top of my reading list, and I suspect I will select it for a First Friday Book Synopsis presentation – maybe in September.

His solution to this problem? His suggested solution is is to take an image out of the military. He calls for “Tours of Duty,” and the building of “Alliances” with genuine security on the part of both the manager and team, and the employee, for the duration of “the tour of duty.” And then, he proposes tangible steps to make this a workable solution.

I like the idea. It seems like a good way to reframe the issue. Let’s see if it has any impact…

If this is not the solution, then someone has to come up with a better one. Because, whether you agree with his solution or not, I think this much is almost indisputable – he has nailed the problem!

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