I told you so

There's a great deal of satisfaction in being able to say, "I told you so." I learned as a kid that it was seldom a good idea to actually say it out loud. But it still felt good just to think it. I guess it's human nature to feel just a little bit smug when you watch someone get into trouble or fall into a trap after you've warned them about what would happen.

07/14/2003


There's a great deal of satisfaction in being able to say, "I told you so." I learned as a kid that it was seldom a good idea to actually say it out loud. But it still felt good just to think it.

I guess it's human nature to feel just a little bit smug when you watch someone get into trouble or fall into a trap after you've warned them about what would happen. And it's especially angering when you get sucked into the problem right along with them. After all, now you've got to help solve a problem that you know could have been avoided or prevented in the first place.

I-told-you-so episodes are usually pretty minor, thank goodness. But we also see them develop at plant, company, national, and even international levels. They shouldn't happen.

For example, there seems to be a pretty clear case that we will experience some difficult natural gas shortages in the years ahead as demand builds and production can't keep pace. Unfortunately, the leaders who might help us develop our natural gas resources tend to just look the other way.

Another case in point is the growing shortage of skilled industrial workers. The demographics are clear. Supply will not meet demand over the next 10 to 15 yr. Certainly not domestically, and possibly not worldwide. But our educators yawn, our government leaders watch with disinterest, our business leaders are unwilling to foot the bills, and our youngsters ask, "Ah, who wants to work in industry anyway?"

Writing in Energy Pulse , Jack Duckworth, CEO, Expert Systems Programs and Consulting, Inc., observes, "Man is the only creature with the intelligence and foresight to change the future to its own advantage, and we habitually fail to act. We berate those who foresee and predict coming disaster and take no action to prevent it. We then reward those who extricate us from the crisis, but fail to acknowledge those who predicted the coming crisis — those whom we ignored in order to bring the crisis into full bloom."

Plant engineering and maintenance has been an I-told-you-so function for decades. How many projects have you seen go up in cost because of delays? How many minor problems have you seen become major ones because they were put off? How many times have you wanted to say, "I told you so"?

It's a tough position to be in. Yet, we know from experience that it's better to predict and prevent than it is to wait and react. And fortunately, we have new tools at our disposal to anticipate the future and evaluate the consequences of various actions or inaction.

We are making progress — albeit painfully slowly. But we have to keep working toward the day when "I told you so" means we averted trouble instead of getting into it.





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