Review: The Alliance

Posted in Management, Reading

I enjoyed The Alliance. It’s Reid Hoffman’s second book on work and career management, with insights and many actionable points of advice to deal with our current job environment of shorter job stints and ambiguous roles. The book makes a good case about old adages no longer apply when the dynamics of employment have shifted, and showcases – albeit somewhat cherry-picked – examples of success.

To be fair, the central theme of The Alliance wasn’t exactly a secret; the idea of restructuring employer-employee relationships away from lifelong tenures and more as finite “tours of duty” was evident mostly in the interviews about the book at launch. The broad philosophy and strategy makes sense, but what makes the book worth reading are the specific tactics it lays out, particularly from the perspective of people management. Even if some of the processes aren’t universally applicable, it’s inspirational to hear about organizations that have done well in structuring their employment expectations as a series of limited tours.

The one area that can still use improvement is the frequency that Reid and his coauthors invoke LinkedIn and how that company follows these examples. On one hand, it’s admirable that the advice is more than just theory-crafting, that a public company has bought into the notion of tours and leveraged it to seemingly great results. On the other hand, this is the second book in a row that reads like a LinkedIn advertisement, and its points can be made outside of a circle of personal experience.

One part that I found fascinating was the observation that not many companies spend time cultivating their alumni networks, but it’s something that universities do extremely well. Since I personally believe that good professional relationships persist even as jobs come and go, maintaining ties after a job ends makes total sense from the employees’ standpoint. And whereas universities have a great reason to keep alumni engaged (donations), the book makes some decent cases for employer benefits as well, everything from ex-employees re-joining the company to business information and connections to simply job referrals.

I’m looking forward to the next book, and here’s hoping that it’ll be slightly less LinkedIn-y.