Eliminating intolerance of uncertainty in 2022

01 January 2022

Working with uncertainty

Intolerance of Uncertainty (IU) is a measure devised in 1994 which measures how much an individual is affected by a lack of certainty about the future. I was delighted to learn the Intolerance of Uncertainty Scale (IUS) is, itself, uncertain. There are national variations, and scoring includes versions which measure responses on 12, 16, or 27 items.

All of which is a round about way of saying that if there is one thing that has characterised 2021, and defines how we see 2022, it is uncertainty. Flexibility will continue to be a core requirement for both individuals and organisations, just as it has been for most of the past two years. A low “Intolerance of Uncertainty” will be one of the most desirable personal attributes, and I expect HR departments are even now deciding which of the scales they will use to measure it. Perhaps it will become as ubiquitous as the different flavours of personality test, and just as misused.

There is not, as far as I am aware, an equivalent accepted measure for organisations, but I am sure that management consultants are busy devising one. I hope EEMUA and its membership would do well in any such measure – but it would be a case of taking the examination after the practical test.

Looking back

Despite the continuing uncertainty, for EEMUA, this past year has been busy and successful. We have continued to hold our events and training online, and development of guidance has been driven by our Members’ needs.

Three of the Publications released this year were entirely new, with EEMUA 227 covering ageing electrical assets, EEMUA 243 on mechanical connectors, and EEMUA 245, a joint publication with the Safety Assessment Federation, giving guidance on pressure system installations.

We have responded to changing technical requirements from our Members, and established new forums, looking at dead legs, carbon dioxide, and hydrogen. Work done in these groups will lead to further guidance for the benefit of wider industry.

The online training has been well attended, and feedback has continued to be very positive, with this aiding further improvement. Investment in the teaching and examination platform has brought us to a system level equivalent to many universities, and we will be making full use of this soon. Our online conference and seminars have been popular. While I, and many others, miss the opportunity for face-to-face interaction, the move online has, perhaps, raised the bar on the quality of the content. This has been reflected in the interest event supporters have said they get from attendees, where they can directly communicate with an expert audience that shares a specific industry interest. Associates who use their discount on supporter packages regard it as a big advantage of their involvement with EEMUA.

The EEMUA Early Years Industry Award was won by Scott Owen of Phillips 66. Once again this was widely picked up by the engineering press, a testament to its growing reputation despite its relatively short history. For EEMUA Member organisations with a recent graduate or apprenticeship cohort, this award represents a great opportunity to showcase their achievements, and the support they are given. To learn more about entering the award in 2022, please contact the EEMUA office.

Where we are now

As we move into 2022, we have plans made, but are flexible in those plans. We hope the pandemic will ease but are prepared for the uncertainty to continue. We will maintain our focus on the membership, a core purpose which has helped guide us through the recent upheavals. In fact, one of the factors that produces a low intolerance of uncertainty is having a clear mission that individuals believe in to allow them to adapt to change, while keeping a firm anchor in what they need to do.

Looking forward

While some aspects of the future are uncertain, it is clear that decarbonisation and energy transitions will play a big part in many of our Members’ planning and, hence in ours as well. We have a clear definition of what our role is; we will work to provide our Members, and our wider stakeholders, with the “how.” That is: proven good practice that delivers efficient and safe implementation of the technologies that will allow Members to reduce, and eventually eliminate, the drivers of climate change in line with the challenging targets that have been set. Our new forums will help define what is needed, but this agenda will extend across all our technical committees and forums, just as it will extend across industry.

There are also aspects of 2022 we can outline with some confidence.

EEMUA will release a new edition of EEMUA 168, dealing with pressure testing, and an associated e-learning module. We also aim to release new publications on temporary repairs, civil and structural asset management, and managing cyber security alerts – working groups formed specially for these purposes from EEMUA’s membership are progressing with producing, verifying, and clarifying the guidance ‘for industry, by industry’.

We have already released our schedule of seminars and training; if the situation becomes clearer, we will be able to keep and, perhaps, even add more as face-to-face events, although we will now always have online options for our courses. Our popular webinar programme will continue.


In short, the past year, like 2020, has seemed unpredictable and, sometimes, quite frightening. Our Members have focussed on the jobs that needed to be done, and got on with it. We have followed their example. In 2022 we are not relying on more stability or hoping for short term certainty. Instead, we have a clear mission, and will work towards it.

The past couple of years may not have taught us to love uncertainty – but we have learned to tolerate it.

But of course, more than being tolerable, I hope it is a Happy New Year for you!

A Happy New Year from everyone at EEMUA.


Stefan Kukula
Chief Executive