Innovation Causation

I’ve always loved to hear and tell stories. I come from a family of story tellers and musicians. Not a lot of it transferred to me but I inherited a few slices of it from my Oklahoma and Arkansas roots.

In the early 1900s my great grandfather and grandmother on my dad’s maternal side lived in northern Arkansas along the scenic Buffalo River. It was difficult to make a living in these rocky hills composed mostly of Mississippian limestone cliffs. There were timber and sawmills, plus a little low-grade silver mining. Good farmland was at a premium, but my great grandparents were fortunate to have about 20 good acres that formed a bar along the Buffalo River. They also owned a small ferry at the only river crossing for miles. Between the land, ferry and local work they made just enough to raise their ten children. Those were still hard times and there were storms on the horizon.

Around 1917, just at the start of World War II and the so-called Spanish flu pandemic, my grandparents decided on a plan to migrate into Oklahoma to find better land and opportunity. It was a bold move – to pull up roots while the world was in turmoil.

But off they went. They moved 100 miles west to a town called Skiatook due north of Tulsa in Osage County, Okla. They were able to lease and farm good land. In addition, they found new income by pooling their mules and using them to skid heavy oil-field equipment. Because of their decision to move and innovate their work they were able to buy their farmland and build successful lives in farming and in the oil fields.

Good Stories

It is sometimes said that every good idea and every innovation needs a good story. After 2020 we are now re-writing our individual and collective stories.

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I’ve always loved to hear and tell stories. I come from a family of story tellers and musicians. Not a lot of it transferred to me but I inherited a few slices of it from my Oklahoma and Arkansas roots.

In the early 1900s my great grandfather and grandmother on my dad’s maternal side lived in northern Arkansas along the scenic Buffalo River. It was difficult to make a living in these rocky hills composed mostly of Mississippian limestone cliffs. There were timber and sawmills, plus a little low-grade silver mining. Good farmland was at a premium, but my great grandparents were fortunate to have about 20 good acres that formed a bar along the Buffalo River. They also owned a small ferry at the only river crossing for miles. Between the land, ferry and local work they made just enough to raise their ten children. Those were still hard times and there were storms on the horizon.

Around 1917, just at the start of World War II and the so-called Spanish flu pandemic, my grandparents decided on a plan to migrate into Oklahoma to find better land and opportunity. It was a bold move – to pull up roots while the world was in turmoil.

But off they went. They moved 100 miles west to a town called Skiatook due north of Tulsa in Osage County, Okla. They were able to lease and farm good land. In addition, they found new income by pooling their mules and using them to skid heavy oil-field equipment. Because of their decision to move and innovate their work they were able to buy their farmland and build successful lives in farming and in the oil fields.

Good Stories

It is sometimes said that every good idea and every innovation needs a good story. After 2020 we are now re-writing our individual and collective stories.

Post COVID-19 reality has allowed AAPG members to reach beyond their normal geographical areas of influence. It is said that “necessity is the mother of all invention.” If that’s the case, then as a corollary I say that “failure is the father of most innovation.”

When AAPG’s face-to-face meetings failed, we looked for members and staff to develop new ideas. The first programs impacted were AAPG’s Distinguished Lecturer and Visiting Geoscientists.

Through new virtual technologies, staff took these popular face-to-face lectures worldwide and more than doubled participation. It should be noted that both programs are supported by the AAPG Foundation.

The ability to change direction is at the heart of innovation. When the economy and pandemic began hurting programs in the AAPG regions, they pivoted and developed new fascinating programs to attract young people and reach a broader audience worldwide. For example, the Latin America and Caribbean Region has developed business programs and essentially mini-Hedberg conferences with participation from top leaders and scientists. The Europe Region developed several alternate-energy forums and now many of their virtual programs are reaching new scientists in eastern Europe. Some of the face-to-face luncheon programs in the Southeast Asia Region went virtual and viral to attract as many as 900 registrants worldwide. You can see many of these programs on AAPG’s calendar at AAPG.org/events/ calendar.

Don’t Get Stuck!

Innovators are rarely stuck in a rut, they are always willing to change and if the opportunity arises, change again. Bob Merrill, AAPG’s editor, is one of those innovators. He redefined the editor’s position to have oversight over most of AAPG’s science output. He added special issues for the Bulletin and developed new emphasis on alternate energy and carbon capture, storage and utilization articles in the EXPLORER.

Some of the Bulletin special issues are focused on “super basins” based on a new idea by Bob Fryklund and Pete Stark with IHS. Charles Sternbach, Bob Merrill and others have further developed this concept into forums and papers. This innovation has provided us with new ways to understand the most productive basins in the world.

Speaking of Charles, I would be remiss if I did not note that another innovation, “Discovery Thinking,” is about to have its 25-year anniversary at the next annual meeting. Congratulations to Charles and all those who have made Discovery Thinking a great program for us to look forward to every year!

Latest Innovation Thinking

This year AAPG, under the leadership of past AAPG President Mike Party, Autumn Haagsma and Jack Pashin, developed a major CCUS conference with an incredible list of speakers. It attracted significant industry attention and sponsorship plus more than 500 participants from around the world. This CCUS program also provided AAPG with the first significant revenue from a conference in 2021.

AAPG’s Director of Innovation and Emerging Science and Technology Susan Nash’s “Pivoting” series has attracted numerous members and non-members to think about new opportunities, especially in the energy transition and in new technologies that can be applied to traditional and transitional activities. In addition, Susan worked with Doug Cook, Bill Ambrose and Bruce Cutright of the Astrogeology Committee to develop the very popular Mars programs with Kirsten Siebach and Michael Thorpe. Our last program, called “My Favorite Martian Outcrop” on April 22, had more than 600 participants.

Right now, AAPG’s Executive Director David Curtiss and Managing Director of Global Business Alan Wegener are putting the final touch on the memorandum of understanding to define the joint AAPG-Society of Exploration Geophysicists joint annual meeting. A lot of hard work and innovation went in to building this joint venture agreement. Soon, AAPG and SEG volunteers will be working together to develop new ideas and programs to bring to the geologic community and beyond.

What’s the Point?

I could keep going, but I hope you see my point. A lot of these innovations may have never happened without significant change and even failure of the systems we relied on to provide our normal programs. No thing – nothing is normal now.

Like my great grandparents, sometimes you just have to make a move! Your AAPG leadership is working hard to find the best moves for AAPG into the future. Please keep an open mind as we discuss new opportunities. Some of these may only be available during this time of upheaval and reorganization.

The good thing is that geoscientists tend to be optimistic and flexible. Thanks to all the innovators who recognize opportunities and bring them forward to make our professional lives more rewarding and productive.

Comments (1)

climate change and the petroleum industrry
Innovation is not easy to sell. I have been trying for several years to publish an innovative idea on climate change, which, if confirmed, would dramatically change the petroleum industry. I have only been able to get it on an obscure website, WUWT. The point is: There are many huge barriers to new ideas that can be insurmountable. See the following attachments for the short and long versions of my new idea. https://www.uh.edu/nsm/earth-atmospheric/people/faculty/tom-bjorklund/climate-change-revisited-the.pdf https://www.uh.edu/nsm/earth-atmospheric/people/faculty/tom-bjorklund/global-warming-revisited-recovered-feb1.pdf
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5/7/2021 8:58:34 PM

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