I just got off the phone with an occasional client of mine who works in the energy industry. I don’t know if you know this or not, but a few weeks ago the International Energy Agency said that, thanks in large part to new drilling techniques, the United States is on track to become the world’s largest oil producer by 2020 and completely energy independent (i.e. no importation of fuel from the Middle East) by 2030. Natural gas supplies are at near-record levels, and there’s a huge influx of new supply coming online soon. And, since natural gas is approximately 70% less polluting than oil, it’s conceivable that the United States could significantly reduce its carbon emissions by making a push toward vehicles powered by compressed natural gas (CNG), with the double benefit that all of that fuel would be produced domestically. In summary, there’s been something of a miniature revolution in the world of U.S. energy production, and it stands to change things in significant and overwhelming positive ways.
However, if you know anything about me, then you know that I can’t stand the idea of change, especially when it promises to make things better for people. I’ve heard crazy things like “the energy sector could add over a million jobs in the next 15 years,” and we can’t allow that kind of thing to happen. So, in an effort to keep everyone focused on the immediate present, here are a few things for you to consider:
Express Immediate Discomfort with New Ideas! – The natural gas industry is about 120 years old, and they’ve been doing the same thing for about 120 years: providing heat for homes and fuel for backyard barbecues (sorry charcoal lovers!). And that’s exactly what it should keep doing for the rest of forever. Never mind the fact that American Express was originally a postal company, or that 3M was originally a mining company. The way things are is the way they should always be. Even entertaining new ideas is dangerous. Just ask the dinosaurs. “Hey, dinosaurs, you guys should seriously consider evolving a closed circulatory system so that you don’t freeze to death in case there’s an ice age!” “Shut up, tiny mammal. What do you know?”
Focus on the Problems Instead of the Solutions! You could look at all these developments as the beginning of an industry-wide transformation that will ultimately increase the market share, prestige, and positive environmental impact of natural gas. Or you could look at it as being really hard and annoying because then you’d have to build a whole bunch of CNG fueling stations and re-tool parts of your marketing and sales approach. And I think we all know that option 2 is the right answer.
Now I know you’re not all working in the natural gas industry. But I assume there are some changes coming your way that you can shut down with these two simple tactics. So what are you waiting for? Start scowling! Folded arms are a good approach, too. And while I can’t recommend that you throttle anyone who dares talk to you about how to address any of your business’s new possible ventures, I can promise that I won’t reprimand you if you choke them a little bit.