Richard Clark, the CEO of ValueTechnology, was furious to
read a detailed article about one of the most secretive technological ideas the
company has. The article was published
in The Technology Corner, a well-known magazine that is very popular in the
high-tech circles. The irony was that the article was enthusiastic of the idea
and its business potential; however this specific project, which was in its
initial state, had been frozen since the CCPM implementation in ValueTechnology
more than two years ago.
The nephew of Richard, Sammy, is an economic private
investigator, and he made, following Richard’s request, an inquiry. His findings were that a disk-on-key containing
a detailed analysis of the idea, done by the Business Development department,
had been given to Jonah Cramer, the top journalist of The Technology
Corner. Sammy succeeded to pull out of
Jonah the information that the transfer of the disk-on-key took place at The
Intellect Coffee House, just at the corner where ValueTechnogy headquarters
reside. The coffee house is always full
with ValueTechnology’s people and many of their direct competitors.
"How come that whoever leaked the file has chosen a public
place to make that transfer?” wondered Richard. "Was not the person afraid to
be seen talking to such a known figure in the industry?”
Richard and Sammy made a list of the immediate
suspects. Ian Fountain was at the top of
the list. Ian resigned from
ValueTechnology six months ago after a furious discussion with Richard and
Betty, the VP of Business Development, about their reluctance to defreeze the
project. Ian had contributed many new
ideas to ValueTechnology, and three of them were in active development at the
time, but he somehow claimed that ValueTechnology has lost its way to
prosperity. Ian’s resignation had made a
lot of hype within the company and in the industry, as he was a very known and
respected innovative engineer.
Sammy called Ian, who seemed to be fully prepared for the
conversation, and asked him bluntly whether he gave Jonah the file. Ian denied he did such a move, but also
stated that he was happy someone else did it.
He was not bothered by the threat that ValueTechnology would file a suit
against him. "ValueTechnology has much
to lose if I open my mouth than what it could do to me. After all the company killed the idea. What is the value of a dead idea?” he
The situation got even worse when Richard got a call from Jonah
asking him to participate in a panel dealing with the potential of the idea in
The Technology Corner Show, a TV program that is popular in the specific market
segments of engineers and technology freaks.
When Richard tried to ask Jonah questions about the identity of the leak
he responded with:
"Come on Richard, you
know I’m the one who asks questions. Isn’t this an opportunity for you to send
the message that ValueTechnology is dealing with much more important
ideas? Do you lose anything from the
Richard hanged up and went into deep thoughts. What to do next? Should ValueTechnology start now to develop
the idea? The article has raised some
interesting points about the potential value of the idea, but now some
competitors may also develop it, which reduces the expected value. Also, what really the company should do about
Ian? Doing nothing could radiate that
one can get away with leaking the company’s secrets.
Can you give Richard an advice, an insight or a
direction where to go from here?