Keeping Ideas Secret Could Hurt Your Business

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(New York Times) — You’ve heard of high-tech start-ups being in “stealth mode,” meaning they’re not telling anyone what they’re up to yet. It has a glamorous aura to it, conjuring up images of a brilliant project in the works that will soon be sprung upon the world, disrupting established players and leaving everyone scrambling to catch up. All smart companies with really great innovations keep those ideas hidden away until they’re ready to release them, lest competitors steal them. Look at Apple, which has perfected the art of secretiveness, to enormous profit. You can tell people about your great idea — but only if they sign one of those nondisclosure agreements you keep in your briefcase at all times. No exceptions!

All this is what Jason Freedman (no relation) learned at Dartmouth’s Tuck Business School four years ago. And, according to a terrific new post on his blog, it’s also what led his first company straight into failure. That’s why when he started his next company, he told everyone what he was up to — with the result that it was a hit and was acquired for a nice sum (I can’t give details) three months ago.

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