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Investing in our future leaders

Money for investment isn't the scarce resource in business anymore; human ability is, writes Fortune's Geoff Colvin in the October issue.

That's why many companies are devoting increasing attention and investment in leadership development, Colvin reports in "Leader Machines," the kickoff article in a package on corporate leadership.

Fortune teamed with Hewitt and RBL Group to study how companies around the world are developing leaders and which are doing it best.

From that research, Colvin writes, nine practices emerged that combine to create world-class leadership development.

One of the most important: a serious investment of time by the CEO and other executives. General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt personally reviews the development of GE's top 600 executives.

Giving up-and-comers broad experience builds better leaders, too, but corporate divisions may suffer when strong managers move to other assignments after 18 to 24 months. Eli Lilly is one of many companies that's trying to get the benefits of job rotation while leaving leaders in place. How? Through short-term work assignments. Managers stay on their jobs but take on an additional assignment outside their field of expertise or interest.

Creating a culture where frankness is expected also is necessary, American Express CEO Ken Chenault says in an interview.

"What's increasingly clear is that when you are open to a discussion of leadership, and you're relating it to your company, it is much easier to get people to become open."

Giving designers their due

Find out why design remains a hot business topic in the October issue of Fast Company, with its fourth-annual Masters of Design feature. Yves Béhar, the Swiss-born designer whose picture is on the cover, is one of the state-of-the-art designers profiled. He's been hired by, among others, Coca-Cola and Johnson & Johnson to shake up their current design work.

Béhar and another profilee, Philippe Starck, design beautiful and useful products, while challenging the corporate orthodoxy of the companies they work with. (Starck also designs hotels and restaurants.) Bob Greenberg of R/GA makes groundbreaking interactive advertising for Nike and others.

Also profiled: Hewlett-Packard's vice president of design, Sam Lucente, and Paola Antonelli, curator of architecture and design at New York's Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).

Some of the quotes by the designers and corporate types veer toward the pretentious and jargon-filled, but the cool ideas and innovative products are what matter. To get the full effect, check out the extra features, including blogs and video, at the magazine's website:

Two rich guys' rivalry

The one-upmanship between Blackstone's Stephen Schwarzman and KKR's Henry Kravis is revealed in the October edition of Vanity Fair. Writer Michael Shnayerson details the parallel lives of two Wall Street titans locked in combat at the top of the private equity heap. Characterized as a struggle of new money (Schwarzman) to supplant old money (Kravis), the rivalry has intensified steadily over the last 10 years as Blackstone has overtaken KKR to be the dominant player, with $98 billion in assets under management vs. KKR's $53.4 billion.

Contributing: Gary Rawlins, Bruce Rosenstein