From Our Perspective
As Jim entered the News for a Change
DH: Ssh! Don’t say a word until you
get in here and shut the door!
JR: Huh? What are you talking about?
DH: I don’t want our competitors to
hear about our plans for the next issue of
NFC, so I’m instituting a new
JR: How do you expect to provide our
readers with top-notch information if we keep our
plans secret? How will potential contributors know
what articles to submit for review?
DH: Well, I admit that I haven’t
figured that out yet.
JR: Maybe you should rethink this situation
a bit before implementing any new policies. After
all, we depend on our customer-supplier relationships
to succeed, and I wouldn’t want us to do
anything to jeopardize them.
DH: I’m not sure I understand what
JR: Let me give you two examples of what I
mean. First, as I mentioned a moment ago, we work as
a customer with many authors who submit articles for
review and publication. They’re our primary
suppliers. If those suppliers don’t know our
plans and processes we’re sure to have trouble
getting articles on the most important topics, and
we’ll probably have even more trouble meeting
our publication deadlines.
DH: OK, I guess you’re right on that
JR: We also work as a supplier to the
readers of NFC. We keep them informed of our
upcoming plans, so they can give us feedback to guide
our decisions. We want them to understand what
we’re trying to accomplish and how we make our
objectives become reality.
DH: That makes sense, too, but what about
our competitors? Should we make all our suppliers and
customers sign confidentiality agreements?
JR: No, I don’t think that’s
necessary. You’re being a bit overzealous here.
When it comes to managing proprietary information
properly, it’s important to look at the risk of
exposure—particularly to the loss of
intellectual property; revenue; emergent ideas,
products, and services; and people.
DH: How do we know how much risk
we’re taking when we share our secrets?
JR: Well, we usually rely on common sense
and experience, but there are statistical tools
available to help us get a more precise estimate of
the situation. Whether we go for a qualitative or
quantitative analysis, the process relies mostly on
two factors: the perceived value of the information
(if it gets into the hands of the wrong parties) and
the historical performance of the organization and
people with whom we plan to share the
DH: So, in the end we have to weigh the
benefits of having our suppliers and customers know
what we’re doing so they can work more closely
with us against the odds that our competitors will be
able to thwart those plans and our results if that
information leaks out.
JR: Stated simply, that’s the crux of
DH: I guess we don’t need to batten
down the hatches, do we?
JR: No, we probably don’t need to do
that. In fact, in our case, we probably need to have
a completely open-door policy. The more our suppliers
and customers know what we’re doing, the more
they’ll be able to help us get there. That, to
me, seems like the best strategy for improvement in
DH: OK, Jim, throw open the door. It was
getting a little stuffy in here. I need to put some
time into thinking about how we can communicate more
effectively and efficiently with our suppliers and
JR: And that’s News for a
Quote for the Month
knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without
integrity is dangerous and dreadful.