Tuesday, October 12, 2010

SEG Governance Changes

As some of you SEG members may know there is a move afoot to change the governance structure of the organization. The details are not hard to find, there are SEG emails, newsletter, the latest issue of Leading Edge, and, of course, online. Each member will have to consider the proposals and decide on his/her own conscience.

In my opinion, there is great danger in the proposed structure. The excom currently is a president and six others, all elected at large by the entire SEG membership. The new rule would be an excom of 18, an executive group much bigger than those of vastly larger organizations such as Apple, Walmart, or the IEEE. Furthermore, certain seats are to be reserved on the excom for regions. Currently, the awards nominating committee is a small group of distinguished members with the charge to identify the best of the best in our society for special recognition, but this is slated to change. The new rule will require something like proportional representation of awards to mirror the composition of the society.

Both of these smack of political correctness to me, and a dispersal of influence and power to the corners of the earth from where it currently resides in North America. Ours is a mixed industrial and academic society and the industrial center of gravity, like it or not, is Houston. If the SEG spreads too thin, too far, too fast, I suspect there could be a rift in the society. If Texas spawned its own society in competition with SEG it would immediately be nearly its rival in power and resources, even if only 10% of the size.

When the SEG broke away from AAPG in the 1930's there was good reason. The culture and goals of the two groups did not align. The men, for they were men, who set up the structure of our society did it with full knowledge of what they were doing. Power is distributed with checks and balances. It is not perfect, but it is more than adequate to serve the society and perhaps save it from a debilitating pulse of globalism for the wrong reasons.

Although I now live in Houston, I am not a Texan by birth or nature. And while I am an American I harbor no American agenda. The fact is that no one set out to make North America the power center of the SEG, it developed naturally from the energy, innovation, and passion of the geophysical industries born there. When this rare combination of enterprise, efficiency, and hard work springs up taller and stronger elsewhere in the world I suspect the SEG power center will move with it, easily adapting within it's original governance framework.

The engine of SEG governance may need a tune up, but not an overhaul.

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