Reid Hoffman says there are three tours of duty we can have with our jobs: rotational, transformational, and foundational. Understanding which tour we are currently on can help us excel. To make it easier (or nerdier), he uses a Star Wars metaphor for each.
Rotational: like Han Solo, we are a hired gun – there to complete a task. We have a definitive purpose and we want to execute our job like a true pro. Once our work is done, we are moving on, typically to a different employer.
Transformational: like Luke Skywalker, we are on a developmental journey. We have an objective we seek to grow into (ex. become a Jedi) and we want to level ourselves up to reach a greater professional state. When a job is done, we are moving on, but within the same business.
Foundational: like Princess Leia, we are a person telling a big story to coordinate others on a unified mission. By orchestrating others around a cause, we’ll need rotational journeymen to complete tasks and transformational leaders to rise through the ranks in support of our vision. The foundational tour is for founders and leaders who shape and guide a business over the long haul.
Every great company or organization has a mix of people on each of the three tours. Professionally, we benefit by knowing which track we are on. Hoffman encourages us to think of each role as being played by a unique hero and to make sure we and our coworkers get that heroic sense about their own trajectory. As he says, “What gives people fabric, and meaning, and joy, and presence in life is other people.” We simply have to consider how we realize those notions.