It could happen to your company: embarrassing Wal-Mart videos on sale


Nothing is private these days.

That's all well and good if you're an open book and don't mind people knowing intricate details about your lives. Some writers -- I'm one -- are apparently genetically disposed to being an open book -- and certainly millions of people have a yearning to tell everyone's what's on their minds on blogs, Facebook profiles and the like.

But what if you don't want people to know what's going on?

The business community is starting to get a taste of that. As you may have read -- there was a great story about it a few weeks ago in the Wall Street Journal -- Wal-Mart Stores, Inc found that a treasure trove of their corporate secrets are no longer secret. In fact, they're on sale. For almost 30 years, whenever Wal-Mart had a high-level corporate meeting, they employed Flagler Productions, Inc., to film their meetings where while being filmed, everyone nevertheless felt free to speak freely.

When I first read this, I thought, "Good idea. Tape those meetings. Stave off the brain drain that happens to so many companies when older executives leave, and later their replacements are left thinking, 'Surely, our company has dealt with this crisis before?'" But Wal-Mart had suggested to Flagler that to save money, they reuse the videotapes, and so for whatever reasons they decided to videotape everything, it apparently wasn't for posterity.