If you could sit down over a cup of coffee with some industry veterans who have lived through more than one boom and bust cycle, what would you ask them? What did they see, and what did they do to cope? They lived through the devastating 1980s, when the natural gas bubble that torpedoed prices lasted so long that people began to call it the gas sausage.

They remember when houses and office space in Midland and Houston became empty shells, sad reminders of the boom that had swept through the oil patch in the late 1970s. People joked that you could store hay in those build­ings. Drilling rigs and other assets of all types were sold for 10 cents on the dollar.

What lessons can we learn from those days? Is now the best time to wait and see and pre­serve capital? Or should a company tear up the playbook and revamp everything: job titles, the organization chart, the strategy, the asset base, the end game?

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