Turning information security upside down

Posted by  Shawn Callahan —November 1, 2006
Filed in Anecdotes

Just a small thought for the day.

I was chatting to the knowledge manager for a large Defence contractor today and he mentioned he’s having difficulty getting people to share information in an atmosphere of security consciousness. Whenever information is created the authors restrict its accessibility, effectively locking the resource away. If another team, in another part of the organisation, needs access to this information (and somehow they discovered the information exists) they must request permission, a process involving filling in forms and obtaining relevant levels of authority to sign off on the request. As a result people rarely bother.

This is a common problem in organisations that value security. There is, however, a simple solution. Turn the situation upside down.

The policy should be that all information is available to everyone in the organisation and if someone wants to restrict its availability they need to seek permission and fill in the relevant forms and gain the appropriate authority. Why don’t we go one step further and require everyone in an organisation to publish their information as RSS feeds inside the firewall.

About  Shawn Callahan

Shawn, author of Putting Stories to Work, is one of the world's leading business storytelling consultants. He helps executive teams find and tell the story of their strategy. When he is not working on strategy communication, Shawn is helping leaders find and tell business stories to engage, to influence and to inspire. Shawn works with Global 1000 companies including Shell, IBM, SAP, Bayer, Microsoft & Danone. Connect with Shawn on:


  1. Shawn – have you seen the article in the SMH yesterday on Intellipedia: a Wikipedia for spooks? I haven’t chased up any more info but it’s VERY interesting to hear of wikis being used in this way. I gather they still have several levels of access but either way its a massive step forward for knowledge and info sharing across defence, and apparently across borders. Not to mention collaborative knowledge creation.

  2. I have run into similar comments when discussing collaboration techniques with government security organizations. One justification for resisting openness is that, by creating so many different silos of information, the danger of a security breach is thereby reduced since the damage caused by the breach is localized.

  3. Thanks for your comments Serena and Dennis. No, I hadn’t seen the SMH article. Thanks for the link Serena.

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