I honestly believe that companies, whose sole ware is based on technical competence, should have an exchange program. Even as I write it in the darkness of the night, I can hear the howl of people attempting to preserve the in house knowledge against their competitors. I assure you, that is not what I meant. Allow me to quote a local example.
In Melbourne, Australia, there are two well known companies that do not compete with each other, in any way; except for talent. I speak of realestate.com.au and Lonely Planet. What exactly is stopping these two companies exchanging developers so that the skills may be sharpened ? Exchange system administrators so that better ways of disaster recovery may be learnt? After all why not ?
I now can hear people say “Oh! But surely thats what conferences and development/sys-admin meet ups are for.” Yes they serve their purpose in spreading that information. But that information is not lived! If a developer from realestate.com.au paired with one from Lonely Planet while working at Lonely Planet, then the information that he gets there is learned and absorbed much much better. Let the exchange program be fore 6 months or a year! This will stop inter company inertia and promote a very healthy environment.
Think , O companies, of all the smart people that perhaps might not leave out of boredom of doing the same old all the time! Think of all the new tools that the people would bring back knowledge of! Think of all the new talent this would attract to you!
But do you have the guts for it ? Do you ?