Saturday, April 30, 2011

"Who cares, it's done, end of story, will probably be fine . . ."

On Friday, April 16, 2010, BP engineer Brett Cocales wrote in an e-mail:

"Even if the hole is perfectly straight, a straight piece of pipe even in tension will not seek the perfect center of the hole unless it has something to centralize it.

But, who cares, it's done, end of story, will probably be fine, and we'll get a good cement job.  I would rather have to squeeze that set stuck above the {wellhead}.  So Guide is right on the risk/reward equation."

As Joel Achenbach points out is his excellent book, A Hole at the Bottom of the Sea:The Race to Kill the BP Oil Gusher - - what a disaster this e-mail was.  The book looks at the BP disaster from the engineer's perspective.  Achenbach writes the following about e-mail and words:

"Words are like overpressurized reservoirs.  They can explode.  Words can go rogue, off the reservation, gamboling about the media landscape, pillaging and plundering - - a mess of mixed metaphors being any one possible nightmare.  All that anyone would remember of the April 16 Cocales' e-mail was that awful verbal shrug:"

Who cares, it's done, end of story, will probably be fine . . .

I think words really make a difference - - what you say, how you say it.  A lot of energy needs to go into how you present the idea, the issue, the problem, the solution - - especially in the age of e-mail that lives forever.

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