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I was chatting on the latest instant-messenger-email-thing-that-isn’t – also known as Twitter DM – with the wonderfully talented – and all-round nice guy – Chris Thorpe of one of my favourite companies, I Can Make, when we both needed to share some details that were confidential.

In some circumstances, even sharing the most basic knowledge of something requires a room full of lawyers and the signing off of forms by layers of management. Not so with us. Sharing confidential information at a surface level with trusted friends and colleagues shouldn’t need a piece of legalese to begin with. Instinct – and, let’s be honest, previous behaviour – will tell you if they can be responsible with enough information for them to want to know more.

And so we shared an outline of what we’d been up to with one another.

I’m glad we did, because I think what I had to let Chris know about was of interest to him, and vice versa. It would never have happened with a Non-Disclosure Agreement, or NDA as they’re known, being brought up in the first instance.

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Of course, it’s worth pointing out that, to be able to share more confidential information, Chris was required to sign a document. It was necessary at that point. Legal documents are there to protect people – in this case, myself, Chris and the (hopefully) mutual client’s information.

As our conversation came to an end, Chris told me that because I’d said it was confidential he made a conscious decision to never share it. He wrote that we had a FrieNDA – the sort of unspoken agreement between people who respect one another.

I loved the phrase immediately.
I’ve decided to use it as often as possible, because through Formation London I’m always looking to be transparent with the people I work with – and those I might work with in the future – without compromising any other agreements or signed pieces of paper, where possible.

It’s the basis of a good working relationship that the first thing isn’t a legal document that needs a signature.

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Side note: I’ve recently discovered August, a company that has been founded from the ashes of Undercurrent. They take transparency to the next level – yet also manage to create real change in companies. They continually blow me away with their approach, as some of those behind it did with Undercurrent. I wish them well, and hope that, in some small ways I can emulate what they’re doing. The August Public Twitter account is well worth a follow.

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