During both of the Olympic bicycle road races, the rules of the race prohibited the cyclists from using radios to stay in contact with their team directors. In both races, the winning move was made by cyclists at the front of the race who were quickly out of sight due to the bending, winding roads.
Several of the losing racers—all professionals who are allowed to use radios in major races like the Tour de France–attributed their lack of audio input to the reason they lost—they were, in effect, racing deaf. They had lost access to the valuable information about what their competition was doing. Losing that knowledge, in the minds of the competitors, made all the difference.
In any level of commerce, we value information about how our competitors are performing. There is even a Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals that teach the ethical collection of competitive intelligence.
For many networks and systems, collaboration among competitors is an indispensable element of how things work. Stock exchanges are a great example. That collaboration, like racing, demands a certain level of transparency among competitors. Take that transparency away, and one of the key benefits of collaboration within the system may be lost. Just like the cyclists this past weekend, no one likes to lose access to competitive intelligence.
Using my Trust Prism, I help companies understand the competitive value of the information they produce, and what information they can lawfully gather when participating in systems involving their competitors. The results are the same as giving you a race radio for the first time. You can build better controls to govern your digital information—protecting what is valued, and sharing what can be shared to improve competitive outcomes.
But, more and more, in our interdependent, wired world, we also resist investing in systems which do not enable us to know what our competitors and suppliers are doing. But no one who is playing to win can afford to play the game without having access to what their competitors are doing. How about you—will you make your own performance visible to your competitors in order to know what they are doing to try and beat you?