Monday, May 21, 2012

Industrial Espionage Charges - A Public Relations Nightmare

John Donovan says, "Shell is notorious for its predatory appetite for the intellectual property of other organizations, its business partners, contractors, etc. Industrial espionage is a way of life at Shell. Shell management has apparently even targeted the US defense establishment," and then he goes on to post: Another alleged case of IP theft hits Royal Dutch Shell

Geezzz, true or not, who needs that kind of publicity?!?!

How can you protect your organization against accusations of industrial espionage?

Step 1. Start by writing business ethics into your corporate Credo. This codifies your standards for all the world to see. It is an especially good anchor for employees.
Don't have a Credo? 
Don't know where it fits into the picture? 

"The Credo ties the company’s Vision to the company’s Mission and Values Statements. The Vision could be seen as the way the entrepreneur sees his company in the future general business environment. The Mission is what he intends to create to secure his place in the Vision. The Values statement indicates what the parameters of operation look like while attempting to achieve these goals. The Credo tells the reader how the company intends to execute these goals. It could be seen as the way the objectives can be reached to realize the Mission inside of the Vision while adhering to certain Values."

Step 2. Post your Credo where it can be see and read by all employees, often. Johnson & Johnson is one company which does this very well.

Step 3. Aggressively investigate all alleged deviations. Make corrections swiftly if the allegations are true.

Step 4. Institute a regular schedule of intellectual property (IP) security surveys, coupled with Technical Surveillance Countermeasures (TSCM) audits. 

Don't be covert about it. The benefits are many...
• The impression that IP theft is bad, as opposed to being an unspoken business practice, is reinforced. 
• Employees see you caring about their privacy. They appreciate that.
• They see that you value the IP assets which makes your company strong, and assures their continued employment. 
• Caring is contagious. If you care, employees will care, and they will assist and support your security initiatives with more enthusiasm. Apple is an excellent example of Step 4.
• You create a safe environment where ideas and strategies can be discussed and developed without fear or compromise.
• And, maybe most important of all, you will thwart IP theft, thus making your company more profitable. Stockholders love that.