Leaks

Robert Scoble on leaks -- "Remember when I posted Steve Ballmer’s email to all employees? I actually had permission to do so from the PR team. Sometimes "leaks" aren't leaks at all. They are press events designed to get the company’s point of view out to the world." This is a good distinction, I think, because real leaks are bad and are generally done by people who have no idea what they are doing. Also, if your company participates in open communities, there's no reason to leak since, presumably, a great deal of your operations are already occurring in the open.

Comments:

Disagree, Jim. Leaks are simply when information is disseminated to the public prior to the company being ready for the news to come out. By definition, a planned or approved leak isn't really a leak at all. Your distinction doesn't make sense to me either, because let's say that I'm a loyal Sun employee and get wind of a corporate change that I really am against. If I anonymously or pseudonymously post a message about it in a public forum of any sort (or even talk about it at the local bar/cafe) to try and influence public opinion, wouldn't that be an example of a legit leak by someone who \*did\* know what they were doing? I'm thinking of the brouhaha a while back about Microsoft's policy towards gay employees, and how they didn't really have to change it until there was a groundswell of complaint due to \*focused, deliberate\* leaks by employees... Just a different perspective.

Posted by Dave Taylor on February 16, 2007 at 06:06 PM JST #

Hi, Dave ... Well it depends on what you mean by the word "leak" I guess. :) Sure, in professional marketing circles, "leaking" goes on all the time as part of publicity campaigns. No question about it. Personally, I think much of that is silly, but I no longer do that for a living so they don't listen to me :). Regarding your example: if a Sun employee leaks something intentionally to influence public opinion \*outside\* the executive-approved publicity campaign, then that's a problem and it's a big problem. Sure, those leakers certainly know what they are doing -- because they are leaking, after all -- but I guess I'd argue that they are also clueless because they generally leave pretty clear tracks as to their identities and they potentially end up wrecking programs that others have worked hard to implement. Those employees are not loyal at all. They are dangerous because their leaking is designed to hurt a project or an other employee or just to make trouble. Honest mistakes happen, of course, and that's life, but intentional leaking of unannounced projects should lead to you losing your job. I also believe that these leakers are cowards because they remain "anonymous" (but in reality their identity is pretty easily figured out, which is the funny part of this issue). Now, on the MS case: I'm not familiar with the specifics of it, but if employees have a problem with a public policy of a company that may actually end up hurting people or discriminating against people, then, sure, I think there is an honorable reason for taking action in some way. That's a bigger issue, though, because that may involve true whistle blowing and legal issues and that is to be taken seriously. I guess I'm just tired of all the media games, to be honest. I favor a massive de-classification of material in the organization because far too much is considered secret. I also favor working in the open as much as possible to leverage community involvement from customers and partners. And I favor absolute secrecy for those few items any organization needs to keep classified (financial data, HR data, product plans, strategic plans, etc). In other words, reduce what you keep closed so it's easier to manage what truly needs to stay closed and open up everything else as much as possible.

Posted by Jim Grisanzio on February 17, 2007 at 02:53 PM JST #

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