Are we doing what we say?

Here’s a Tip: Some Cows May Not Be So Sacred

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)

At AAPG we often say that we are becoming an ever more nimble, constantly evolving organization. The question for all of us is: Are we doing what we say we do?

I grew up as a city kid at the outer edge of a suburb, with fields and cattle literally just out my back door – and the mythical idea of cow-tipping always intrigued me.

The cow of interest needs to be sleeping on its feet. (Note: My horse, Kilo, who does sleep standing up, tells me that this is NOT a typical bovine trait.) The urban legend suggests that leaning into said sleeping cow results in an overturned cow waking suddenly to a world gone awry; or, a less skillful effort offers a fair chance of the errant cow tipper being butted by a very awake, very irate cow.

While the former has never actually been photo-documented, the latter apparently has occurred with predictable regularity for the rather inebriated fellows who’ve tried it.

Today, in my capacity as president of AAPG, working in concert with our very capable Executive Committee, I find myself dealing with a whole different breed of cows – the sacred ones.

Our business is all about distributing and promoting petroleum geoscience and supporting professionalism, and one of the critical charges we have at the EC is to look at what we are doing as an organization, within the context of our ever-changing business and product price environment.

We regularly and continually evaluate our long-term strategies and actual-versus-predicted outcomes and look for what is working well – and what has become a teetering sacred cow.

In the nearly 100-year history of AAPG, we have developed a remarkable range of ways in which we spread our geoscience. Many of these pathways have become heavily entrenched and some might easily be considered sacred cows.

Let us examine a few cows in our product herd:

♦ What about our AAPG BULLETIN?

My off-site storage shelves contain numerous overstuffed boxes full of old AAPG BULLETINs (these will soon be donated to the AAPG Publications Pipeline to send to geoscience students in developing nations – this is a great cause, and I invite you to do the same!).

I now have my BULLETIN delivered over the Net and on disk. At this moment, there is a backlog of more than 40 papers waiting in “Ahead of Print” for publication in the BULLETIN … if delivered digitally, perhaps they would be in broad distribution at this very moment.

Is the time approaching when we go fully digital with the BULLETIN? Are we moo-ving toward that time now?

♦ What about the AAPG website?

By now it is likely that most of you have seen and even used some aspect of AAPG’s new website, which was unveiled in late February.

And it might be possible that some of you, in the past, had thought our old website was a “cow,” pig or something else more unpleasant that one might find in abundance in a barnyard. In any regards, something that needed to be changed.

In some ways the previous website was a weary cow that served its purpose when first introduced in 2008, but AAPG took upon itself to cull from our pasture.

It’s there for you now – and I think you will find the “customer experience” to be vastly improved.

Mainly, this new site is the result of a huge amount of collaborative thought and ceaseless effort by our headquarters team, led by web editor Janet Brister, IT developer Justin Acton and project manager Kerrie Chamberlain, plus their key team of Bogdan Michka, Mark Donnini, Chris Salmon and Taron Graves. Dozens of others at headquarters provided valuable support.

That’s one old cow that we tipped, largely in an effort to give our members a more valuable website experience. Be sure to check it out – and let me know what you think!

♦ And what about our historically preferred “go-it-alone” approach to running conferences and workshops?

This sounds like a teetering sacred cow to me.

No matter what the topic, it is typical for people to assume ownership of a project and think of it belonging to “us” and not to “them.”

But we have overwhelming input from vendors/exhibitors, our key sponsoring companies and our meeting attendees, that they want to see integrated meetings that involve more facets of petroleum geoscience and engineering than just geology.

Accordingly AAPG is actively exploring and implementing more ways to partner with SEG, SPE and our other sister organizations to create more fully “integrated” conferences and workshops, while still holding onto other meetings for a uniquely AAPG brand.

See related story.

We will keep on tipping sacred cows at AAPG – but now while I dangle, bleeding and bruised from the horns of one or more of those rather alert sacred cows, I invite you to take a serious look at your own sacred cows – whether in AAPG, your company or your own specific piece of geoscience.

Any other teetering sacred cows out there?

It’s not just a moo-t point, this need for innovation and change to remain relevant in a new century. Feel free to ping me at and let me know how AAPG might more nimbly do what we say we will do!

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Presidents Column

President's Column - Lee Krystinik
Lee Krystinik, AAPG President (2013-14), is a principal with Fossil Creek Resources, Arlington, Texas.

President's Column

AAPG Presidents offer thoughts and information about their experiences for the Association. 


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