Pssssst – Business Secrecy is so outdated, and don’t be careful who you tell !

I would like you to do a better job for me, but I can’t share with you critical information that would help you do that, as it’s a commercial secret”

The above sentence is rarely said, but it is often the truth of many business leaders and executive. It not only applies to their staff, but to potential commercial partners, suppliers and even clients.

Business leaders must learn that too many layers of corporate confidentiality – often motivated by nothing more than a very old belief that you only tell staff “what they need to know”, does nothing more than keep their staff ignorant of many key facts and critical data, that is needed in order to make the best and most agile decisions.  Secrecy in business should only be needed to guard an obvious commercial advantage, such as a product formula, or a new production method. Otherwise it has no benefit to any business.


Many senior executives fear that their competitors will go to any lengths to know what they are doing or planning. But do business leaders really think that their competitors cannot deduce their costs of sales, their marketing strategies and their client facing actions – of course not, so why the need for secrecy.

The other sobering fact, is that even if two competitors were to fully exchange the details of their inner workings to each other, there is every chance each business would gain little or nothing from that knowledge, as each business already has its own culture, beliefs, goals and methodologies – that would prevent them from adopting or copying the competitor’s ways.

So for real performance in any business, let go of the business secrecy and embrace your staff, partners, suppliers with a flow of all information, that can help all stakeholders understand your business, understand the pressure points and understand where they can make the best of decisions, based upon “all of the facts”.


My own contention is that yes business data is vital and critical to your own business, but “what you do” with the data, makes you the business that you are – not the data alone. For a simple analogy, let a street kid steal an F1 car, and the results will certainly be a smashed car and not a poetic blend of man and machine. Likewise, a stolen client list in a competitor’s hands will not create revenue or profit, and will more than likely go on to give results worthy of anyone motivated to steal, nothing of any long term good.


Until the turn of the millennium, business leaders were of the generation that could remember the second world war mantras such as “loose lips sink ships” and mistakenly believed that any “operations” must always be shrouded in secrecy (and no doubt ran from their bunker office on the top floor). Some two decades on, there is no place for this thinking, and no reason to allow secrecy to be used (destructively) to hide incompetent management, or to feed office egos or paranoid mindsets.


So to build a modern, agile, innovative and successful business today, leave secrecy behind, and take all stakeholders with you –  on your amazing business journey