Thanks for this post, Dan. I work in headhunting for EA orgs, so please read these comments with that in mind!
Thanks again for your post, and I look forward to hearing from you if you'd like to discuss further.
There seem to be some similarities here with how generalist careers go within the UK Civil Service.
There, you typically do 2-4 years in a role before moving onto something which is usually unrelated, at least in theme if not in role. For instance, in the FCDO, you might go from 3 years working on trade with India, to a new post working on Brazil's internal politics, before going to work on human rights at the UN. Sometimes people also go from working in policy roles, to comms, to HR etc., but that seems less relevant here. Some stay in a particular thematic area for much longer, or go back to things they've previously worked on - but that's the exception, particularly early in careers.
My sense is it's fairly popular amongst staff because you get to try out lots of things, meet more people, learn more (at least more broadly), move if you don't like a job/team, potentially travel etc. But there are some fairly obvious costs that might also apply to the Tours of Service described above:
Chris Kerr highlights some of the benefits, and includes helpful ways of making it work. You could also take my points 1-7 and see related benefits to each of them. And it sounds like it's also been useful in attracting staff that wouldn't otherwise have taken the job. So I don't mean to be positive or negative overall about EA Tours of Service. I think some of it depends on the employees, and the circumstances of the organisation/team at the time. But I wanted to highlight some of the potential downsides too, based on my somewhat-related experience. Hope that's helpful!
[In case it's not obvious, I'm not talking about the 'concrete outcomes' bit of this model - that seems like it should be the default for most roles anyway, especially within EA.]
I'm mostly not talking about specialist roles, like lawyers, for example - though they also move between thematic areas quite a bit.