The world is getting more and more hypocritical.
Take the response of Rio Tinto to China’s arrest
of four of their employees for industrial espionage...
“We believe that they
acted at all times with integrity and in accordance with Rio Tinto’s strict and
publicly stated code of ethical behaviour.”
All right, they have to say that sort of nonsense in the
hope that it will encourage the Chinese authorities to go easy on their people.
Yet surely the Chinese are no fools and recognise it for the
hypocrisy it is.
All business depends on being better informed than the
So the entrepreneur should take every possible opportunity
to pick up every potentially useful scrap of information about customers,
suppliers, competitors, and markets in general.
Commercial intelligence, far from being unethical, is
There are, of course, laws against theft and trespass, and
the need for business information does not excuse those caught breaking them,
but it is foolish to pretend that intelligence-gathering is shocking, unusual,
After all, as the wise man – a wise Chinese man
as it happens – teaches us, “Know your enemy and know yourself, and you need
not fear the result of a hundred battles.”