If you have been living under a rock for the past little while, you may not have heard of Wikileaks. Wikileaks is an organization that solicits and then leaks secret and/or classified information to the general public. The head of Wikileaks, Julian Assange, has been called every name in the book by politicians of all stripes, and the organization of Wikileaks has been attacked from several different quarters economically.
But I don't want to talk about the politics of the situation here. What I want to discuss is the lessons for business that we can learn from this episode of world affairs. There are several lessons to be gleaned from both sides of the issue.Lesson 1: Keeping secrets is hard.
. By their very nature, secrets are very difficult to create and very easy to destroy. If your business relies on some form of secrecy, you have to be extremely thorough in your protection of those secrets. The best known case is the secret recipe of the coca cola formula. Supposedly only a handful of top people at Coke know the secret, and they have kept it that way for about a hundred years. It is much more likely that your secret will be found out. So before committing to this course of action, make sure that secrecy is really what you need for your situation. It'll be costly.Lesson 2: Assume your conduct will become known.
. People get mad when their secrets are discovered. This is usually because the secret information makes the participant look bad. A simple way around this is to always behave ethically. You may lose an advantage if your secret information is discovered, but you will keep your most important asset, the good opinion of your customers. Lesson 3: Viral marketing is very effective.
Wikileaks has become unstoppable because it has harnessed distributed information systems and created a broad demand. This is the power of the internet in the modern age. Make it work for you.
More to come later!