Credit Matters Blog

There Are No Secrets Any More

Kim Radok 27 October 2013


One of the dynamic differences between the world of yesterday and today, is that today, we live in a more open society. As such, it is almost impossible to keep any sort of secret. Unfortunately, that is reality of life today, which many people have yet to understand.

So why is it so hard to keep a secret today?

There are several reasons why it is so difficult to keep a secret today. One of the most important factors is usually because most secrets involve at least two people. The truth is, one person may be able to keep a secret where there is no IT or other evidential footprint. Unfortunately they usually let the secret out of the bag by telling somebody. From that point on, it is really hard to contain a secret.

To narrow our discussion on keeping secrets, let us confine the conversation to the commercial world. In business, there are a number of aspects to consider.

1  IT facilities and exchanges - whenever you use IT facilities to exchange or store information, you are leaving a foot print of evidence which can be accessed. IT facilities can be hacked, lost, stolen and the material within altered or misused.

2  Business competitors will expose your information if they believe there is a commercial advantage. There is no honour amongst thieves, or competitors looking to gain an advantage.

Furthermore, competitors can join the ranks of social media through Linkedin, Facebook and the myriad of other online groups, to find out something about your business. Somebody, somewhere, will know when you cheat your customers, don't pay your suppliers or are operationally inefficient.

3 Business associates are only reliable as long as it is in their interests to protect your secrets and their own reputations. Do you really believe a jilted associate or one that believes you no longer meet their business ethical or social standards; will not use your information to their advantage at some stage in the future?

The best example of secrets exposed by business competitors and associates are those involving cartels. The cartel secrets become exposed when the cartel breaks down, or the authorities offer an immunity package for the first party to "dob" in the rest of the cartel.

See how long a secret is contained in these situations.

4  Employees can be an open source of your business secrets (in addition to their own personal secrets). There is nothing like a disgruntled employee who shares your business's secret at the local bar, or on social media or with the authorities.

In the US, employees have discovered the operational secrets of their business. These employees in turn use the organisation's resources to find the evidence, leave and then turn whistle-blower to the authorities. Their objective is to gain a share of the funds which will be recovered through the fines and penalties levied by the authorities.

5 People are less willing to tolerate unethical behaviour, and / or, they love to create mischief through malicious lies and innuendo. Social media provides the means and incentives to take advantage of any business weakness.

On another level, trying to keep a secret about something which has gone wrong, always brings about a greater penalty subsequently when the secret is found out, rather than if the problem was admitted to up front. This is the reason reputable PR professionals usually emphasise that it is best to be open and admit to any problems upfront. Trying to keep mistakes secret is not usually their preferred option.

The benefit of this policy is that people are usually far more forgiving with an upfront apology or admission of guilt than a later mea-culpa. By being upfront about any adverse situation allows you the opportunity to promote a better long-term image or change of business practice for your business.

Therefore may you never do anything which makes you embarrassed enough to hide it, because you may well be found out. It is always best to remember the old adage, "honesty is the best policy". At the end of the day, keeping secrets in today's world is almost impossible. So why do you bother?

May you be paid today rather than tomorrow

Kim Radok