I consult. I industry analyze. I get asked to sign non-disclosure agreements, NDAs.
People tell me things. Businesses tell me about needs, budgets, and procurements. Solution providers tell me about product plans, pricing, customers, financials, merger & acquisition activities, pending investments. They suppose, sometimes justifiably, that these matters interest their competitors. The information disclosed in the course of discussions is sensitive and proprietary. Naturally, a company wishes to keep it from others who can use it to competitive advantage, whether a rival, supplier, or customer.
When information is currency, you seek safeguards. NDAs are a mechanism of choice. (I’ll add that unless you’re in broadcast mode (all messaging, no listening), an NDA should be mutual. As a consultant and analyst, I have my own market and technology views and reactions to information presented to me. My views, reactions, and advice have commercial value although it never ceases to amaze me that they do!)
Some believe that lengthy NDAs, replete with legal arabesques, somehow offer the greatest (and minimal acceptable level of) protection. My view is that they not only constitute unnecessary overhead, they may even degrade information security. If they are closely read and fully understood only by the lawyers who drafted them, they are a no-value-added imposition on the folks who actually touch to-be-protected information.
Here’s what I propose, a short, sensible, understandable, and comprehensive(-enough) NDA that responds to the need with the type of protection that really counts, personal commitment —
As a condition of their interaction, the parties recognize that certain information exchanged will be proprietary and sensitive and agree to respect the confidentiality of all such information disclosed in the course of the interaction.
That’s 237 characters, not even two tweets long, but it works for me if it works for you!
Now just don’t get me started on over-reaching contractor agreements…