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Consulting NDA Question

 
#1 Consulting NDA Question
01/04/2014 05:04

Big3Hopeful

If you are a consultant for an agency, is it ethical and/or legal to use information from a past engagement in the same industry (e.g. manufacturing) to help educate you on a current engagement in the same industry given the two firms are not competing against each other in any fashion (and may in fact be compliments) and materials are never being shared from one firm to the other (the materials are strictly educational for the consultant).

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#2 RE: Consulting NDA Question
01/04/2014 07:58

marsday to Big3Hopeful (#1)

Information from a past engagement in the same industry...it's called experience. Frankly this is a bit of a moot point - you can't unlearn what you know, and wouldn't want to either. If you are referring to collateral of some sort then it's simply a matter of whether you would be disclosing anything to the client which is otherwise confidential or commercially sensitive.

Your ethics actually rest on an obligation to do the best for your client. One of the reasons companies seek out the assistance of consultants is to obtain precisely this sort of insight into problems they are facing.

No conflict.

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#3 RE: Consulting NDA Question
01/04/2014 08:13

presidentbartlet to marsday (#2)

Indeed some companies refuse to engage consultancies unless they agree to never consult for any competitor (which is clearly not going to happen!) on the basis that they don't want this sort of thing happening.

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#4 RE: Consulting NDA Question
01/04/2014 08:18

Big3Hopeful to marsday (#2)

So if a Bain employee, for example, know's that Bain has worked in the past with a bicycle manufacturer and said employee is currently consulting with a sailboat manufacturer, and the production of sailboats and bicycles happens to be very similar, then he should look through Bain's files from the bicycle manufacturer to better inform him how to help the sailboat manufacturer so long as he never tells the sailboat manufacturer any sensitive/proprietary information?

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#5 RE: Consulting NDA Question
01/04/2014 09:19

marsday to Big3Hopeful (#4)

So if a Bain employee, for example, know's that Bain has worked in the past with a bicycle manufacturer and said employee is currently consulting with a sailboat manufacturer, and the production of sailboats and bicycles happens to be very similar, then he should look through Bain's files from the bicycle manufacturer to better inform him how to help the sailboat manufacturer so long as he never tells the sailboat manufacturer any sensitive/proprietary information?

Yes of course. Not only should he do it from a best practice POV, the client is paying for it to happen.

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#6 RE: Consulting NDA Question
01/04/2014 09:20

Bushy Eyebrow Partner to Big3Hopeful (#4)

No point re-inventing the wheel. You may find that your T&Cs state that you own the material anyway.

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#7 RE: Consulting NDA Question
01/04/2014 09:32

Big3Hopeful to marsday (#5)

Thanks so much for your response. I almost got fired because of this, and my boss claimed it was unethical/NDA violation, when in fact it seemed to me that it was my responsibility in fact to do so.

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#8 RE: Consulting NDA Question
01/04/2014 09:57

Tacitus1 to Big3Hopeful (#7)

You will find that people have adverse reactions to situations like this. Don't ask me why, I find it utterly bizarre.

I have been in meetings before where colleagues have been describing past experiences where they make a huge point not to say the old client's name etc. even when what they are saying has no legal obligations whatsoever. Then in a meeting a week later, they have been asked a question as to where they previously worked and they have gladly named their old client/s. 1+1 = 2.

It's like voldemort - 'he who must not be named'.......

Sharing past learnings is one of the main benefits of hiring a consultant. Else we may as well all just go back to analyst level and wipe your brain clean of all your learnings after every engagement.

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#9 RE: Consulting NDA Question
01/04/2014 12:34

Mr Cool to Big3Hopeful (#7)

I think you'll find how it actually works is....

During sales presentation to client...

Consultant: "We do of course have unparalleled experience in your sector having worked on very similar projects before. We'd expect to hit the ground running and bring a lot of experience and pre-existing knowledge to the table. Its one of the reason we spend "insert ridiculous random £ figure" on our internal knowledge management system"

Once on the project, in response to a general question from the client, such as "how have you seen this work before"

Consultant: "Client confidentiality is of paramount importance to us. We could never disclose confidential detail of any previous clients."

Ideally, while saying this, you should look at the client that asked the question as if they've just farted in front of the queen.

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