Yes, I am sure they do when it comes to war and certainly there are many aspects of business where confidentiality is important.
But in a post on the Union Square Ventures weblog, my partner Brad notes that there is a high correlation between how open an entrepreneur is with the market and how successful they are.
I noticed that, at least anecdotally, there was a correlation between how open entrepreneurs were with us and their ultimate success. Simply put the entrepreneurs who are aggressively open in describing their plans seem to do better than the ones who are cagey. There is absolutely no data underneath this observation. It is just my sense after meeting hundreds of entrepreneurs over 15 years as a VC.
and he goes on to suggest that:
an entrepreneur should be open with everyone, and that they will get the most value out of being open with the people who are most knowledgeable about the particular problem they are trying to solve. The people most knowledgeable about a problem are also the ones best positioned to compete with the entrepreneur, so the entrepreneur has more to gain and more to lose by being open with these people. From one perspective, the risks and rewards of being open are perfectly balanced. Every insight comes at the cost of another potential competitor, but that calculus leaves out the whole problem of execution. If an entrepreneur is incrementally more prepared to execute on an idea that the person they are sharing it with, they should still gain even if they engage in an open (and equal) exchange with a potential competitor.
I think that last point is the clincher. "If an entrepreneur is incrementally more prepared (should it be equipped?) to execute on an idea" then they should be as open as possible. It's an interesting suggestion and worthy of debate. Which is exactly what is going on in the comments to Brad's post on the USV blog.