Most any kind of organization can foster innovation, talent building and camaraderie by adopting the tour-of-duty approach used at LinkedIn and advocated by its founder and co-author of The AllianceReid Hoffman. “Employees might embark on a rotational, transformational or foundational tour of duty,” notes The Optimistic Workplace author, Shawn Murphy in describing LinkedIn’s culture. The three steps to such tours are:

  1. Learning the basics about the company.
  2. Participating in a transformational task, “such as starting a department.”
  3. Being trained by diverse others in the firm, to lead.

Specificity is Key Self-Clarity to Mutual Understanding

“Employees must commit for the duration of each tour in a ‘mutually beneficial deal, with explicit terms, between independent players.’ Hoffman even suggests a term sheet explaining what the company expects and what it offers, whether an exchange of contacts or help finding a job elsewhere,” Bloomberg Business journalist Bryant Urstadt wrote in characterizing the specificity in this LinkedIn policy that boosts it’s popularity and power for all parties.

Facilitate the Networks That Keep Employees Engaged for Life

Any company can optimize the shared learning from the tours of duty, by having an aptly designed enterprise social-enabled intranet, according to Enterprise Strategies founder and managing director, Andy Jankowski: “The last thing you or your employees want after a successful tour is the loss of that shared experience. Enterprise social networks allow for key collaborations to happen digitally — in a format that is stored, searchable, findable and reusable. These networks provide the needed glue and context for meaningful and efficient knowledge sharing and engagement. As well, these networks can extend beyond the company firewall, and thus maintain and grow networks of current and past employees who share a common experience that can often continue to contribute to the company.”

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