How to handle confidential info in an interview
  2. Discovery Interviews (Step 2)
  3. How to handle confidential info in an interview

3. Cloaking sticky notes during Discovery interviews

How to protect customers' confidential information while interviewing them.

Let’s say you tried to discourage use of an NDA, but the customer insisted. Is this going to be a problem for you during or after your Discovery interview? Not at all. When you get to the end of the interview, just say…

As you know, this meeting is covered under an NDA, which means we must decide what information—if any—should be considered a secret for your company. And as we said, this is a project for the entire industry; that’s the only way we could justify the R&D investment. So do you see any sticky notes that we should consider confidential to you? If so, we’ll mark them as such and—if we don’t hear the same thing in another industry meeting—we’ll quarantine the outcome and not include it in our project.”

Notice, you’ve said you’ll quarantine—or eliminate from consideration—any outcomes they identify as confidential if you don’t hear them elsewhere. It’s rare at this point for customers to identify sticky notes as “their secret.” By the way, what if you do not have an NDA in place and notice customer discomfort when one of them volunteers some information? We recommend you still give them the opportunity to “retract” the idea or have you treat it as confidential… even though no NDA is in place. This is how suppliers earn and build trust.

Let’s say the customer says, “Yes, you should consider the information on sticky note #23 as confidential.” Here are your options:

  1. You could ask them if you want to delete the contents of sticky note #23. It’s easy to then move the empty note to the bottom of the Discovery Noteboard with the other blank sticky notes.
  2. You could make a note in the title box of the sticky note, “CONFIDENTIAL INFO TO COMPANY ABC. DO NOT USE ELSEWHERE.”
  3. You could cloak the note… which means everyone on your team will still be able to see the note because they have access to this project. But if someone else in your company is doing a search, this sticky note will never appear in their searches.

To cloak a sticky note, just open the note and click the grey box at the top (next to the yellow, green, blue and salmon boxes). This will turn the sticky note grey and make it “unfindable” in searches by other colleagues from your company now and in the future.

Considering using both methods #2 and #3 above, i.e., typing a “CONFIDENTIAL INFO” note and cloaking it. This sends a strong signal that you are a well-prepared supplier, serious about protecting their information.

So what actually happens when a sticky note is "cloaked"... besides turning grey? If someone at your company uses the Blueprinter menu search function, their search results will never include a cloaked sticky note. This means you can tell the customer that the only people who will see this sticky note are on a "need to know" basis (specifically you and your team-mates).


Keywords: NDA, non-disclosure agreement, CDA, confidential disclosure agreement, secret information, confidential information, cloak, cloaking, sticky note, Discovery interview, grey note, gray note, unfindable, unsearchable, need to know, search sticky notes