This is a Short Note.
When I joined the Nigerian banking sector many years ago, out of college, one of the first assignments I was asked to perform was to look for a specific memo in a file cabinet. I did just that. But something happened when my senior colleague that gave me the assignment asked me to sign that I had looked and could ascertain that the memo of interest was not there.
Honestly, I was surprised. Just coming out of NYSC, I was not used to that level of responsibility and ownership of actions. I mean, I had looked for the memo and it was not there. But asking me to sign was another level to it. At the end, I did sign the document, but I had to re-check again to be doubly sure. The second checking was more intense and more thorough. I was casual in the first attempt, but when I was put to own my action and be responsible for the consequences, I made sure that I did a better job. Good enough, the specific memo was not there.
Over the years, across industrial sectors, I have come to understand the importance of responsibility and ownership of actions. As a supervisor or as a subordinate, you must know that actions you take at work and indeed in life have consequences.
But why this today? I just read a Fortune newsletter which I will quote a portion below:
Salesforce’d out. Salesforce fired its director of offensive security and another senior security staffer after they revealed details about an internal hacking tool, colorfully dubbed MEATPISTOL, during a presentation at the hacker conference Defcon last month. Salesforce apparently signed off on the talk initially, and it reportedly planned to open source the tool eventually. The duo is now being represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Notice clearly in that report that ” Salesforce apparently signed off on the talk initially”. This means, they approved it for the guys to make the presentation. But using “apparently” could imply they never approved it. This implies that it was not well documented. (ZDNET provides more information on this.)
Simply, it is important to note that only the big boss can disclose anything (yes, technical issues) about a firm without consequences. Before attending seminars and presentations, a good idea is to show your slides to your supervisor, seeking a written approval (an email will do) before you present the work. Do not assume anything.If the supervisor thinks he/she cannot make the call, it is left for him/her to seek further approval. That is not your business. Provided your supervisor has approved, no company will penalize you. Also, when you do the presentation, be guided, do not deviate from the bounds of your limitations, no matter how exciting the questions or interactions are.
President Donald Trump can disclose or declassify whatever he wants about U.S. government to a large extent. That is the reason why the President cannot technically leak any information because he has the final say on what is being disclosed or declassified. The same applies in companies, the CEO can share anything he or she wants. (I am focusing on technical disclosure here, without concerns on market moving data that can manipulate markets.) But for everyone, a written approval is required.
I am hoping that the Salesforce men who were fired had documents that can prove they have the right approval to disclose. It does not make a lot of sense for a Director of a leading technology firm like Salesforce to lose his job in this way. The very fact it is happening is a key lesson for everyone on how to handle technical disclosure.