On Responsibility: Confidentiality

In: Entrepreneurship / 7 comments

7 Feb 2010

I was often in the position of knowing confidential information. And I often told other people confidential things… Can you imagine what would happen if I started telling people or writing on my blog what I found out under an NDA (Non Disclosure Agreement)? Responsibility for the confidential nature of the information you hold is one of the things that characterize you as a person. It positions you as being trustworthy or not.

I know the feeling you experience when you know something that – once told – would instantly create the image of a “connoisseur” in the eyes of the others. People, relatives would talk about you in the following terms: „Woooow… look how far the guy has come, how many things he knows before all the others!”. Often what you and only you know is so interesting that it simply doesn’t want to stay there, hidden. It is similar to knowing that Jill is John’s mistress and not being able to gossip about it with your neighbor. The only difference is that if in Jill and John’s case your responsibility comes only from your friendship with them, in the case of business information disclosed in confidentiality, things are much more complicated. Before you open your mouth:
– think about how much damage you would do to the company you work for if all the plans you know about are disclosed;
– think about the fact that you signed a confidentiality agreement (either explicitly or implicitly through your employment contract);
– think about the fact that just as you spread information everywhere, there will be people who will talk about you and say you are not trustworthy.

It’s not even necessary for people to literally tell you “this information is confidential”. It’s your responsibility to think on your own and not throw information around only to brag.

And another thing: the world is a small place! You should definitely not rely on the fact that the person you tell things to will not, in turn, tell someone interested. There is an 87.45% chance (oh, that sounds so professional – actually it’s only a very big chance) that the information you pass on lands in the nastiest of places. Your friend will always have a cousin who will have a wife whose coworker is friends with the person who is the most unsuitable to know this information. Or, even worse – we all know someone in the press. And then a business secret becomes very public :-). And you end up faced with the fact that the company your company wanted to buy now doubled its price (for instance)…

There’s more: Don’t rely on someone else’s discretion more than you rely on your own. If someone tells you something confidential and you cannot keep your mouth shut, how can you expect confidential treatment from the person you ask “to, please, not pass the information forward”, that person being much less involved in the issue than you.

All in all, everything is about the responsibility you feel you have in connection to the job/company/information you hold. The ethics of responsibility is a quality you have and you should stick to it.

And… no, nothing unpleasant happened to me in this respect, on the contrary: I remember, for instance, that when RAV was acquired by Microsoft, a Linklaters/PWC/Nestor/GECAD/Microsoft team – a total of 50 people had known about the deal for 6 months and, in addition, in the last month all GECAD employees – 120 people knew about it. And nothing spilled! Respect.

(English version by Teodora Popescu)

Original Romanian version

Despre Responsabilitate: Confidentialitatea

Am fost de multe ori pus in situatia sa stiu lucruri confidentiale. Si de multe ori am spus altora lucruri confidentiale… Cum ar fi fost sa ma apuc sa spun la prieteni sau pe blog ce am aflat sub NDA (Non Disclosure Agreement)? Responsabilitatea asupra cofidentialitatii informatiei detinute este unul din lucrurile care te caracterizeaza ca persoana. Ea te pozitioneaza ca fiind „de incredere” sau din contra.

Cunosc sentimentul care te incearca atunci cand stii ceva care – odata spus – te-ar pozitiona in fata celor din jur ca fiind „connoisseur” . Oamenii, rudele ar vorbi despre tine in termeni de „Oooo… cat de bine/sus a ajuns tanarul, cate stie el inaintea celorlalti”. De multe ori lucrul pe care il stii in sine este atat de interesant ca parca nu vrea sa stea acolo, ascuns. E cam ca si cand ai sti ca Ioana este amanta lui Vasile si nu poti sa barfesti despre asta cu vecinul/vecina. Singura diferenta este ca, daca la faza cu Ioana si Vasile ai responsabilitate doar prin prisma prieteniei tale cu ei, in cazul informatiilor de business aflate sub confidentialitate treaba este mult mai complicata. Inainte sa deschizi gura:
– gandeste-te cat rau poti face companiei la care lucrezi daca se afla toate planurile de care tu stii;
– gandeste-te ca ai semnat un contract de confidentialitate (fie explicit, fie implicit in contractul de munca);
– gandeste-te ca la fel cum tu imprastii infromatie in stanga si in dreapta, se vor gasi oameni care sa spuna peste totdespre tine ca nu esti de incredere.

Nici macar nu este neaparat necesar sa ti se spuna textual „aceasta informatie este confidentiala”. Esti responsabil sa gandesti cu capul propriu si sa nu dai cu informatia in populatie doar ca sa te dai mare.

Si inca una: lumea este mica! In nici un caz nu merita sa te bizui pe faptul ca cel caruia ii spui tu nu va aspune cuiva interesat. Exista o sansa de 87.45% (ah, ce profesional suna – de fapt este doar o sansa foarte mare!) ca informatia data de tine sa ajunga in locul cel mai antipatic. Intotdeauna un var al unui prieten va avea o sotie al carei coleg este prieten cu persoana cea mai nepotrivita sa afle. Sau, inca mai rau – toti cunoastem pe cineva in presa. Si atunci secretul profesional ajunge foarte public :-). Si te trezesti ca acea companie pe care voia firma ta sa o cumpere costa dublu (de exemplu)…

Mai am: Nu conta pe discretia altuia mai mult decat contezi pe discretia ta. Daca cineva ti-a spus ceva confidential si tu nu-ti poti tine gura, cum te poti astepta ca cel caruia ii spui “te rog sa nu dai mai departe” sa trateze treaba confidential, el fiind deja mult mai putin implicat in problema.

Una peste alta totul este despre responsabilitatea pe care o ai legat de jobul/compania/informatia respectiva. Etica responsabilitatii este un bun pe care il ai si merita sa te tii de el.

Si…. nu, nu mi s-a intamplat nimic antipatic, din contra: imi aduc aminte de exemplu ca in cazul achizitiei RAV de catre Microsoft, a fost o echipa Linklaters/PWC/Nestor/GECAD/Microsoft – in total vre-o 50 de oameni care au stiut de deal timp de 6 luni, iar in ultima luna au stiut suplimentar toti angajatii GECAD – 120. Si nu s-a varsat nimic! Respect.

Comments

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Bazilide

February 7th, 2010 at 11:26 pm

Crezi ca vanzarea RAV ar mai fi ramas ,,gekados,, in contextul de astazi cand toata lumea are blog, twitter and stuff?
Pana acum ceva timp off the record era un termen care se aplica doar jurnalistilor, cu web 2.0 ar trebui aplicat tututor, mai ales ca, daca nu este etichetat explicit, ,,confidential,, suporta numeroase interpretari.

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    Radu

    February 8th, 2010 at 10:17 am

    Sire, pai asta zic si eu – ca informatia pe care o primesti trebuie pastrata in confidentialitate indiferent de instrumentele de diseminare pe care le ai la indemana… fie ele vorba din gura in gura fie jurnalistii de profesie, fie jurnalistii de ocazie – bloggers 🙂

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Alex

February 8th, 2010 at 12:23 pm

de incercat raspandirea de informatii fie false, fie neconfidentiale dar noi printr-o singura filiera ca sa afli pe cine te poti baza 🙂

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yndy

February 8th, 2010 at 5:16 pm

Sunt zeci de tranzactii care se intampla anual in Romania si numai despre 5-10 ajunge sa se vorbeasca in presa inainte sa se intample. Consultantii de genul celor mentionati de tine stiu de multe dintre acestea si totusi nu vorbesc despre ele. Desi sunt si dintre consultanti unii care au “scurgeri” catre presa, chiar regulate. Zi merci ca nu ai nimerit dintre ei.

Cu angajatii depinde de cultura companiei, sunt companii ermetice, unde oricum angajatii nu stiu nimic concret despre businessul firmei si sunt altele in care managementul dezvaluie punctele de strategie catre toti angajatii ca dovada a increderii si deschiderii.

Dar cel mai greu este cu antreprenorii, cred ca 50% din scurgerile de informatii sunt de la antreprenori, 30% -40% de la consultanti si 10-20% din cauza angajatilor. Si nu exista limite la cat rau poate fi facut unei tranzactii daca se incalca obligatia de confidentialitate.

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Mirela Ursache

February 10th, 2010 at 11:52 am

Adevarat. Si cu atat mai hazliu este faptul ca o emisiune tv se numeste “confidential”.

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uberVU - social comments

February 7th, 2010 at 10:44 pm

Social comments and analytics for this post…

This post was mentioned on Twitter by GeorgescuRadu: Blog Post: despre Responsabilitate: Confidentialitatea – http://www.radugeorgescu.ro/2010/02/07/despre-responsabilitate-confidentialitatea/

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February 8th, 2010 at 8:52 am

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Radu Georgescu, Radu Chira, ccpascu, ccpascu, ANIS_20 and others. ANIS_20 said: Oh, so true 🙂 RT @GeorgescuRadu: Blog Post: despre Responsabilitate: Confidentialitatea – http://bit.ly/aQ6CUB […]

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Radu Georgescu
GECAD Group