KCF Technologies Blog

The Opposite Approach

By Jeremy Frank

“If every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right.” – George Costanza – Seinfeld Episode #86 – The Opposite

I was interviewed recently by Frost & Sullivan as part of a market research article on condition monitoring in oil & gas applications.  The article was posted last week, and begins as you might imagine… “We've all heard the horror stories: oil prices declining by 70%, capital expenditure (CAPEX) declining by 25-50%, rig count declining by 80%. Globally, the oil and gas industry is reeling, with oil prices breaching the $30 per barrel mark.”

The article goes on to provide an insightful and informative perspective on the fast-changing and currently dire state of the oil & gas market in general, and Condition Monitoring specifically.

It’s a worthwhile read (you can check it out here), and really got me thinking. Not about the global oil & gas market… about one of my favorite Seinfeld episodes of all time: The Opposite.  It’s the one where George, after a lifetime of continuous failure and disappointment, decides to start doing the exact opposite of what his instinct tells him.  Instantly, everything starts going right for him, and all that he wants falls right into his lap.

There are some real parallels between the comedy genius of Seinfeld and the ongoing comedy of choices that we make in our daily lives. It’s wired into our DNA, right? It’s the lasting effect of our reptilian brain that gives us our fight-or-flight response. Often in the face of a crisis, we run, or more bury our heads in the sand (or a pillow) until the trouble has passed.  Or, we make irrational choices based on fear. We adopt a mob mentality, following the crowd.  Think of the folks who lost confidence in the stock market in 2008, only to stuff their money under the mattress and watch the market more than double over the next few years.  Oops.

My point isn’t to comment on the projections in oil & gas prices, or anything markets trends in general.  That’s not what I do with my time.  It’s a take on the companies (our customers and their competitors) who are operating in the current environment of fear and uncertainty.  I’m seeing two types of behaviors:

1) companies who are waiting it out, hoping it won’t get any worse, cutting costs on ridiculous things like coffee, meals and benefits, or more serious things like training and safety.

2) companies who are taking a good, hard look at the challenges and opportunities presented by the market, and making strategic investments to run more intelligently, more efficiently and more safely.

I feel fortunate that the companies we work with fall squarely in the second camp. Just like George Costanza, they are resisting the temptation of fear-based actions and doing the exact opposite of their competitors.  Having seen this episode, I’m pretty sure how it will turn out!

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