Regardless of the source of any "leak" about a
major project, word gets out at some point, and that needs to be considered as
a factor in the project
planning process from the very start.
GDI Solutions can be helpful
in this regard, in at least three distinct ways, as explained below and at
- Response & Screening
The "leak" problem isn't
solved by lawyers armed with non-disclosure agreements for other lawyers to
review, because the problem may not even involve somebody who is a party to
any such agreement. Such agreements may also have no real meaning in
some jurisdictions and, in any case, punitive legal action for breach of
confidentiality doesn't put the genie back in the bottle or help the
business to develop as intended. In short, such agreements are often
meaningless except to highlight explicitly that the company is very
concerned about maintaining project confidentiality. Investors rarely need such legal
agreements. They mainly need to be very clear about what is sensitive,
and what can be shared as appropriate with relevant contacts. They
also need to be very disciplined about what their own employees share from
Savvy professionals in this niche can often guess who is
planning a project, even from anonymous information requests, because
project parameters or site or facility requirements are familiar.
Sometimes, by appearing to know more than they really do, they can call and confirm
such project plans and obtain important details. Even an innocent
"bingo" card response to a magazine ad or websites by a curious employee can
tip off alert professionals to the existence of a potential project.
Rather than become obsessive about controlling or tracking
down every possible "leak", an alternative approach is to recognize that
sooner or later somebody is likely to find out about the project and start
asking for more information. Service providers will want to promote
their capabilities to be of assistance. Area representatives will want
top executives to consider their location for the project.
|Prevention : Very discreet
By the nature of the business, GDI Solutions
routinely needs to gather information about many business locations and
service providers to support project plans from the earliest stages by many
This means that, in many cases, the necessary information or contacts are
already in hand, thus eliminating the need for company staff to start
gathering information through activities which might alert others to the
existence of a project. Even if we need to request some additional
information for a confidential project, that is such a routine need that a
request arouses no suspicions, and gives no hint about the investor.
By contrast, when curious staff or executives start to
request even the most general information, it can tip off alert area representatives to a
which is supposedly still confidential. If they start contacting other
people at the company to try to win the potential project, they may
inadvertently contact people who are not yet supposed to know about it (as
in the obvious case of a relocation project).
Furthermore, if there is already an ongoing working
relationship as an active participant in the services of GDI Solutions, then
there may be little reason for anyone inside or outside of the company to
take notice of any information-gathering activity through GDI Solutions. There
is no reason for anyone else to know which company is being supported when
strict confidentiality is critical to a project.
Keep in mind, however, that participating area
representatives and service providers know that confidentiality must be
respected in order to be considered for future projects. They can
often be far more helpful when more specific information is shared, or if they can be
introduced directly after a suitable briefing (including confidentiality
constraints) so that they fully understand the complexities of all the business needs.
|Control : "Thanks for your interest, but please
talk to Global Direct Investment Solutions. They assist our executives whenever we need to
plan any projects, anywhere. If any of our executives need to reach you for any reason,
their relationship leader for our company should know how to contact you quickly, and
the scope of what you can potentially do for us."
In other words, there is no need to either confirm or deny
that any specific project plans are being developed at the moment.
Instead, there is a standard response process by which all
employees who are approached about investment plans can deflect enquiries to
a single source, such as to a corporate communications specialist or
directly to the designated relationship leader at GDI Solutions. This
provides a single point of contact to coordinate all responses, and can also
quickly alert the company when "the rumor mill" is generating an unusual
flow of enquiries, whether as speculation or leaks, or perhaps simply in
response to good news or analysis about growth prospects.
A well-established process for information-gathering to
support executives whenever investment projects are planned can field any
unsolicited enquiries about projects professionally, so that the potential
risk of any "leaks" should be greatly reduced, and addressed
quickly by the relationship leader, who needs to be alert to such activity.
This doesn't mean that executives won't continue to
develop their own support contacts as appropriate to their interests, or gather information as
they wish according to their responsibilities, or confront the problem of "leaks"
regardless of careful precautions and good intentions.
It should, however, greatly reduce the risk of inadvertent
project disclosures, which can often occur even before a formal project team
is created, or before there is agreement about who is going to take
responsibility for leading the planning work and decisions.
Besides, a well-established support process can minimize
the amount of valuable executive time which is otherwise spent on very basic
exploratory research work, so that attention can be focused on tasks which
actually require their expertise. A lot of valuable executive time can
be wasted on response to unsolicited contacts or through general information-gathering work
which really adds little value at the time.
|Response & Screening : Provide a discreet way
to be responsive to enquiries which may actually be of interest at some
point in the future, even if not at the present time, while also communicating disinterest
diplomatically to others. Try to limit potentially harmful "fishing" for
information and contacts.
Once "the word is out", service
providers and area representatives as well as journalists often start to call and ask about the
project to virtually any contact who they know or can identify and reach at the company,
anywhere in the world. Executives and staff at completely unrelated
company operations, including people who perhaps should not be aware of a
project which is still hypothetical rather than an actual plan, can suddenly
start to get calls.
Despite good intentions, such as a very genuine desire to
support the project, such calls can be very disruptive and harmful. Even
though a few outside individuals have already discovered the project, it may
not yet be common knowledge, even around the company. News of the
project can also tip off competitors or harm negotiations, because if the
company wasn't identified, people may be calling around firms in the
industry which seem to fit the known description of the project.
There is a need to be responsive and avert speculation or
needless "fishing" for contacts around the company, and to limit the spread
of the information (or misinformation), while still preserving whatever
confidentiality about the project details may still be necessary.
The main challenge at this stage is to screen out relevant
enquiries from those which are of no plausible interest, and to get the
callers to respect the need for confidentiality. Frequently,
since the project details are not known, those making the enquiries may not
know whether they are wasting their time or unintentionally causing harm by chasing
after a project which has no need for their services or location.
GDI Solutions can offer a professional, independent process to help sort
out which enquiries may be relevant or not for introductions to the
responsible executives, without sharing confidential project details.
This process also provides professional service providers
and area representatives with a quick way to find out, whenever they pick up
a "rumor" about a project, whether GDI Solutions is already "on top of it"
and thus ready to introduce them quickly as appropriate. We may be
able to "confirm
or deny" authoritatively whether there is any potential opportunity for them in pursuit
of that "lead", and be patient about letting the executives pursue
the process in confidence as intended. That can
avert needless "fishing around" at the company or among
competitors, which can be an unintentionally harmful
waste of their time.