"Brain Drain" (Cover Story, Sept. 20) fails to mention the cause of this crisis. We have failed to develop a systematic method for developing those who will be in charge. We have relied on personal-development programs, subjective feedback mechanisms, and MBA programs taught by people who have never worked in business to develop the knowledge required to lead. We have settled for the use of abstract terminology to define the skills and abilities required and then embarked on development paths that have precipitated this current dilemma.

The math is easy: There are not enough retiring managers choosing to remain in the workforce to bridge the gap between skills required and skills needed. The consequences of this will become apparent in the years to come as our best companies become unable to seize opportunities in the future.

Michael Laddin

Shawnee, Kan.

Your article overlooked a particularly effective way to retain the knowledge and expertise of departing executives: capturing their "war stories" and lessons learned in a digital video database. Using technology originally developed to preserve the knowledge of logistics planners from the gulf war air-and-sea lift, we have conducted on-camera interviews for government agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency and Veterans Administration, as well as dozens of private-sector firms. And unlike retired executives retained to counsel only senior decision makers, this can provide every employee with instant access to an organization's best experts.

Kemi Jona

Cognitive Arts Corp.


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