Important vs. Urgent vs. Critical

We do a lot of important things in the oil and gas business, and sometimes we have to prioritize what we do first, and there seems to be some question about whether you do the urgent things first or the critical things first. So let’s look at the differences in these definitions to help us understand what is being said when something is “important,” “urgent,” or “critical.”

Important = of significant worth or consequence, a value judgment of superior worth

Urgent = calling for immediate attention, pressing, a timing judgment

Critical = crucial, vital, at a juncture where the consequences can change significantly for the better or worse

All three of these words have to do with judgment:

Important is a value judgment.

Urgent is a timing judgment.

A situation where judgment is needed to effect the situation positively is critical.

So which word should you use as a flag in the subject line of your email?

Answer: That depends.

Situation 1: You are working on your weekly status report, and your boss wants you to do a few net present value calculations to see if an acidizing job is worth doing in a particular well. He wants you to do the calculations before you finish the status report. He flags the email as “Important.”

Situation 2: You are writing up the documentation for your recent petrophysics study, and the guys from the field who are drilling that horizontal well are seeing something different than you had projected. They want your advice right away, so they flag the email as “Urgent.”

Situation 3: Your overseas partner is thinking of pulling out of the joint venture because your original modeling work showed lower reserves than they had expected. However, your updated model with the data from Well #3 shows the reservoir extends further to the east than the original model assumed. You flag your email to the partner as “Critical.”

Hopefully now you have a better understanding of when to use these important terms.

Profound Quote of the Day:
“A comprehensive national energy policy is critical to our nation’s economy and our national security. Energy expenditures account for about 7% percent of our total economy and influence pricing in the much of the rest of the economy.”

– Heather Wilson, American Congresswoman, R-NM, b. 1960


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