Confidential means Confidential.
There are many legitimate reasons why the plans for major
investment projects often need to be kept very confidential. The reasons
are not always obvious to everyone.
Regardless of the reasons, however, the principle is very
simple. Details about a project need to be treated as confidential
responsible executives request such consideration in the performance of any
introductions or research work on their behalf.
Just as professionals in government service are not allowed to simply decide
for themselves whether the confidential material they receive should actually be
classified and treated as confidential, this is not a judgment call to be made
by those who support the strategies and business plans of corporate executives,
It is up to the executives to decide what does, or does not, need to be
protected as confidential, and with whom or at what stage of their plans any
specific details may be shared. They are always
presumed to be in the best position to make that judgment. Information is
shared or restricted according to their instructions, not our own judgment.
Every participant in the services of GDI Solutions is expected
to fully respect the confidentiality requests of corporate executives and
other participants, without the need for legal "non-disclosure" agreements with
us or each company for each project. This is basic professional conduct.
The absence of explicit legal constraints is not an excuse for unethical or
unprofessional conduct. Abuses jeopardize the professional reputation
and services of this company and all the other participants in our work.
|Handle Information Professionally
As explained separately (in The
"Rumor Mill" Solution), it is very difficult for companies to maintain absolute secrecy
about major projects for many reasons. We cannot, and do not, assume
liability for the risk that somebody, somewhere may find out about a sensitive
project or share project knowledge inappropriately, whether or not the "leak" is triggered by the actions of any
participants in the GDI Solutions services.
There are also very legitimate reasons why we may sometimes
encourage executives to agree in advance to share some project details
selectively among relevant participants in our work. A more thorough briefing may enable
specialists to anticipate needs or issues which were not already identified by
the project leaders or their advisors. They can be more responsive to information requests through a better understanding of
the investor's business and critical project requirements. Knowledge needs to be
shared to add value, but sometimes value can also be destroyed when knowledge is
It is not our objective to needlessly restrict the professional flow of
knowledge which would enable
participants in our work
to provide much better support to the investors we serve.
On the contrary, we prefer to introduce investors directly to
the specialists who seem to be in the best position to support their interests,
and then encourage the sharing of project plans with such professionals as
appropriate so that they can be more helpful.
The choice about what to share, when, and with whom is for the
executive to decide.
|Compliance and Consequences
As a service which is built upon the foundation of
professional working relationships within three large global
networks of contacts in multiple industries and professions, we may learn about project confidentiality problems
We take any reports of project "leaks" very
seriously because of the risk to
our service relationships among the executives and professional advisors we serve.
Confidentiality problems are a threat to the development of a faster,
better, and larger flow of direct investment projects, and are therefore of
great concern to us.
We have a very well-organized process for feedback from
investors, and for the tracking of all "project leads" and any referrals
we make, and for
the efficient sharing of information as appropriate about confidentiality risks, with a very long "institutional memory".
Any organization which is found to abuse the trust which is
reflected in project referrals and confidentiality requests will forfeit future
participation in any of the services offered by GDI Solutions. Zero
tolerance. We cannot force participants to respect confidentiality, but we
will not do business with those who betray our trust in their professionalism.
They may reliably expect to never receive a referral from us
again. Future investors which express specific interest in their area may
also be alerted to
our concern about potential confidentiality issues prior to making any such
We may not be able to openly share the feedback we receive about
specific breaches of confidentiality, such as for legal or other constraints
(including continued confidentiality!),
but we take any such feedback from investors or professional advisors very seriously.
We will not
forget actions which jeopardize the reputation of this firm or other participants
in our services, and we will take this into consideration in our future work on
behalf of any participating investor, from anywhere in the world. We
cannot enforce respect for project confidentiality, but there will be
consequences for disrespect.
We believe most professionals in this niche fully appreciate
and respect the need for project confidentiality, but sometimes their high enthusiasm
for a project, local political interests, or inexperienced staff can lead to
lapses of judgment and unintentional problems, as illustrated in the example at
Regardless of good intentions or excuses for mistakes, "leaks"
or other disrespect for project confidentiality are simply not acceptable
conduct for participants in this service.
Example From Prior Experience
To illustrate the
importance of confidentiality, nearly a decade ago a seemingly innocent case
of disrespect for confidentiality by an economic development
representative of a local investment promotion agency caused, despite
good intentions, a very large project to be lost to the entire country which
was expected to win it, and nearly resulted in a major lawsuit and very bad
publicity for the area involved over the
Local officials tried to guess the identity of the
unidentified investor, and started to call many companies trying to find out more
information about the project, unintentionally alerting competitors in the
process and quickly
alarming the most senior executives at the company, who also started to receive
multiple calls asking about their very confidential project. As the
pretended to know more than they really did in the hope of learning more or
confirming their assumptions, they created the impression of a serious breach in
project confidentiality. Past information requests by company staff who
had simply requesting a brochure about the area soon enabled them to "put 2+2
together" and guess the identity of the investor, at which point they started
calling any executive they could reach at the firm.
In their zeal to pursue this large project, the local officials had hoped to gain some advantage to help
them "win" the anonymous project through more direct contact with the company.
By not respecting the explicit confidentiality request of the referral process
through which they were
being considered for the project, they caused very real harm beyond their
imagination. They also ruined their good opportunity to win a project
which could have become a very prominent and valuable investment in their area.
Instead of gaining an advantage, they lost that opportunity and others too,
costing hundreds of jobs and many millions of dollars in potential value to
The officials involved did not even realize that the continued
confidentiality of the project was probably the main reason why they were not
sued by this angry investor for millions of dollars in actual and potential
consequential damage to
business development plans for a very strategic investment on which they had invested a
lot of time and resources. As far as they knew, they were just off the
short list, and did not perceive the damage done. We could not inform them
of the full consequences of their irresponsible actions, both to the company and
We, however, know the impact on that furious investor. We
still take this problem into consideration when dealing with any
projects for which that location might otherwise be regarded as competitive,
even though the individuals responsible for that specific breach of
confidentiality are no longer employed by that organization or in this profession
to the best of our knowledge. The people who did the harm in this instance may be gone, but
respect for confidentiality may still not be adequate, and that is a risk which some
investors simply cannot afford to take, and we cannot afford such a threat to
our own professional service. There are many alternative areas
which do respect confidentiality.
We take the responsibility for project confidentiality very seriously, and
we expect all participants in our services to do the same. We have strong
global networks of contacts and a very long memory about any cases of disrespect
for this critical issue.