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Tools for Effective Work Alliances: A book review of Reid Hoffman’s The Alliance

by Dino Cabrera

Reid Hoffman, Ben Casnocha, and Chris Yeh highlight the fundamental disconnect of modern employment and how the employer-employee relationship is based on a dishonest conversation. “Companies today talk about retention and tenure with fuzzy language: their goal is to retain good employees and the time frame is… indefinitely. Companies is asking employees to commit to itself without committing to them in return. Many employees are quick to jump ship when a new opportunity presents itself, regardless of how much they profess their loyalty during the interview or annual reviews.”

In an alliance, employer and employee develop a relationship based on how they can add value to each other. As cited in the book by Russ Hagey of Bain & Company, “Help make our company more valuable and we’ll make you more valuable.”


The authors provide tried and tested methods on how employers and employees can mutually advance through an effective alliance that’s based on the truth and clearly defined tours of duty. A “Tour of duty” represents a commitment by the employer and employee to focus on accomplishing a specific goal. We also need to remember that defining a specific tour of duty varies greatly based on a person, company, industry and job title. There are three different types of tours: rotational, transformational, foundational, and each industry will have its own blend of tours. Rotational tours are usually for entry-level employees where they are at early stages of training & internship and have yet no predefined role i.e. the management trainee. Transformational tours are for employees with specialized roles and are assessed based on how well they complete this role given to them i.e. the creative director. An employee working for a company with the mind that it his or her “last job” and the company in turn expends all efforts to keep him or her there permanently, then that is a foundational tour, i.e. the general manager being groomed as the future CEO.

In an advertising agency the proportion of alliances is more on the transformational tour of duty. Winning an award increases the value of an employee and at the same tranforms the agency. This makes it then an effective and valuable alliance.

The book is well written and highly relevant. It’s filled with individual and organizational examples, giving it credibility but at the same time keeping the flow engaging and practical. If you are a manager, you will find tools and real examples to help you implement the alliance which can transform your department or team. For an employee, it will help you understand what to commit and expect from the alliance as you negotiate with your manager.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: With more than a decade as a creative director, Dino has worked on numerous award-winning campaigns, such as McDonald’s, P&G, and Samsung. As the current chief digital officer at Leo Burnett Manila, he oversees the ideation of web, social media, and digital marketing solutions. He was also the ECD of Netbooster Manila (Movent) where he turned the web company into a digital creative agency. In his spare time, Dino enjoys skydiving, horseback riding, and dreaming of doing said activities.

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