Transparency: It’s All Out There, So Deal with It

I had a fascinating discussion during a meeting I recently attended with the head of marketing and sales for one of the world’s largest makers of gas turbine power generators. He explained that their products are essentially big jet engines combined with generators that are used to provide emergency power to hospitals, data centers, and other critical resources during power outages. Then he asked my advice about an issue that was very much on his mind.

He told me that, until recently, his company had treated its price list with extreme confidentiality. They believed it was essential to their business, particularly since they had different price schedules for the same products depending on whether they were selling to hospitals, government, IT, or other industry segments. They saw pricing confidentiality as critical to maintaining their selling prices and maximizing their margins.

However, this company recently discovered—to their shock—that the street prices for their $25 million jet-engine-based generators were being shared on Twitter! So, much to my amazement, here’s the question he asked me: “How can we stop this, and make our pricing confidential again?”

My answer recalled the famous Five Stages of Grief, where I pointed out that he and his company were still in the Denial phase over social media’s impact. My advice was for him to get on with Anger, Bargaining, and Depression, so that they could quickly move on to Acceptance. ...

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