The ONE book you need to read this year

the alliance

I’m a big fan of Reid Hoffman, Linkedin Founder and Silicon Valley Venture Capitalist.

When he released Startup of You, a few years ago, I gobbled it up and came away quite impressed.

He recently released The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age. Naturally, I grabbed a copy. As an HR guy who’s also an entrepreneur, the subtitle piqued my attention even more.

I chose to finish it off yesterday, during my Glenda-imposed house arrest when this tree blocked the only road going out AND took out the electric wires. (yes!)


Now, I’ve read a lot of good books over the last few months. I’ve read a few page-turners (Hatching Twitter can only be described as Game of Thrones for Startups), but I don’t think I’ve read a book this year where I’ve had to pause SO MANY TIMES to imagine how some concepts and ideas could be applied to the companies I’m involved in.

If you manage people, in ANY firm, startup or 100-year institution, this is THE BOOK to read.

The book’s main thesis is that the model of “lifetime employment” so many managers still cling and hope for from their key people has now ben rendered irrelevant and obsolete. Think about your best people – don’t a lot of us manage them by trying to keep them (and hoping they stay) FOREVER in our firm?

The book also argues that the typical people processes we employ – like annual performance reviews – have now been rendered obsolete.

Instead, the authors offer an alternative paradigm – forging alliances with employees. The book urges leaders to tell employees – “help make the company more valuable and we’ll make you more valuable,” and doesn’t force the paradigm that the company’s vision should be only vision she breathes.

What the book does is that they go BEYOND the theoretical, and give very concrete ways The Alliance could be implemented. These guys make an awful lot of sense.

I remember all the key people I’ve lost – in my own startups and in the organisations I ran HR in. I do think this sort of paradigm could have helped a lot. It changes the whole way I look at HR – and coming from someone who has been living and breathing HR for quite awhile now, this is pretty substantial.

If you’re a startup owner or an organisational leader who worries a lot about key employee turnover, managing millennials, and creating great company culture, then grab the book now and start implementing its concepts.