What is Pass the Baton for Generation X?

As Boomers may retire on a slower than previously expected schedule, the very talented members of Generation X face two particular Pass the Baton issues. Both are related to their unique place in the demographic universe, which has 83 million Booomers, 43 million Xers and 73 million Millenials. Their skills will be in demand, and there aren't really enough of them to go around, assuming that Xer leaders will be demanded by employers everywhere.

1. Without appearing to shove the Boomers out the door and onto an ice flow, how do they develop the management and leadership skills that they will need to manage their organizations? This might be perceived as "grab the baton" instead of "pass the baton."

2. For the significant number of Xers who want only to be perceived as valuable contributors to their organizations with high professional profiles, how can they successfully avoid the mantle of leadership? Some far-sighted Boomers are beginning to ask their Xer colleagues to take on leadership roles, and there are Xers who would rather have their fingernails pulled out with hot pokers. How can they preserve their professional identities despite pressure from Boomers and the specter of a generation of Millenials who will soon enter their spaces, label non-leader Xers as "slackers" and throw them under a bus?

What is Pass the Baton for Boomers?

The very first idea for Pass the Baton came from a conversation with a classmate at my 40th high school reunion. He had retired and then been hired back at a substantially higher salary because his employer realized that his knowledge had walked out the door.

Regardless of the economy, during the next decade, millions of Boomers will retire, change the way they work or die at their desks. Without a systematic way to extract the technical, historic and cultural information that they have, their employers and former colleagues are destined to reinvent or rediscover the processes, procedures and connections that Boomers operated.

A separate case will often be made for changing and updating those procedures, but without documentation -- without a roadmap detailing what was done and how and why it was done -- the cost of recreating that knowledge base will be staggering.