Why losing talent isn’t always bad

When star designer Marc Jacobs announced in October that he was leaving Louis Vuitton, it caused Andrew Shipilov, a blogger at Harvard Business Review(hbr.org), to muse about the upside of losing top talent.

When a longtime star leaves a company to work for competition, he or she tends to stay in touch with friends and former colleagues from the old job. These ties act as communication bridges through which former colleagues can learn what the departed worker is up to in the new job, Shipilov says. Cumulatively, when several workers leave to work for different companies, the colleagues staying behind build bridges to lots of companies.

“We are not talking about industrial espionage here,” blogs Shipilov. “The positive effects of communication bridges on creativity come from friends catching up with friends in very general terms about what is going on in their professional lives.”

The messages to the non-fashion world are clear, he adds. “Don’t part with former employees on bad terms and don’t forget about them. Stay in touch with them as they are your communication channels and ambassadors in the industry. Replace them with talent from different companies to preserve diversity of ideas inside your firm. And make sure senior executives take time to train and socialize the new hires.”