Employment agreements and contracts typically have a clause that says something along the lines of: “I won’t spill secrets outside the company, not even to my dog, competitor or new Facebook friends.” (The clause is in legalese, but that’s the English translation.) It’s there to protect a company’s “secret sauce,” or the next big thing that’s going to create millions in sales and transform the business into the unchallenged market leader.
But is that secret sauce really so secret?
How do you feel about signing non-disclosures? Share your thoughts in the comment below.
An article in Forbes points out that we might not be the only ones who have thought of our great new idea. After all, if we’ve seen a market opportunity and are hurrying to take advantage of it, our competitors most likely are doing the same thing.
“We believe that our ‘customization’ will give us an advantage, hence we keep it ‘secret’. We’re unaware that everyone else is doing the same.” – Bruce Upton
Just because something is secret doesn’t mean it’s unique. There are exceptions, of course — some algorithms, for example, are truly unique. Those ideas are typically patented. For the rest of us, the power of our secret sauce isn’t secrecy. It’s our ability to do it faster and better than our competitors. Don’t forget that secrecy is temporary — eventually you’ll ship and then it’ll have to be better, not just more secret.