Mount Everest Case

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(1) The formation of groups by the leaders lacked the consideration of the non-expert members’ skills. The leaders, groups and their members had different sets of goals in their minds. The teams’ goals did not fit well with the overall goals of the organization. There was an imbalance between the perceptions of the team members, guides and the leaders. (2) Right from the very beginning team leaders underestimated the challenges offered by Mount Everest. It indicates the tendency of overconfidence bias and recency effect of reliance on good weather in recent years. (3) The team members could not establish strong working relationships. Many team members were either not sure of their role in their teams or were reluctant to raise a point due to their perception that they were placed lower in the chain of command. Sherpas’ expertise was not properly utilized. In fact, the groups never moved beyond the forming phase. There was lack of group decision making. They had an excellent knowledge pool which the groups did not utilize to make decisions. (4) The leadership style of Hall & Fischer discouraged feedback from the team members. Therefore, the leaders were distanced from guides and other team members. It was a detriment to working of the group as one unit. There was lack of participative management. However, participative management could not be used as a universal rule while facing hostile nature. This problem was compounded by an autocratic leadership style. Team members’ psychological safety was missing. (5) The leaders, guides and non-expert members all ignored the “two o’ clock rule”. This rule was set up by the leaders but they themselves did not adhere to it. Their late arrival at the summit left them with no choice but to descend in darkness and deal with hostile weather. There was no discussion about the relevance and usefulness of pushing forward with the climb knowing that the above rule would be violated. This is an indication of poor decision-making. (6) There was a lack of communication during different phases of this expedition. In the absence of live communication the members could not have reviewed and revised their goals and strategies if they felt that the weather or other circumstances were going against them. There were not enough radios. There were concerns about lack of sufficient supply of oxygen. The communication was flowing only from the top and in some case there was a complete communication breakdown. (7) The leaders, guides, and other members were reluctant to accept defeat. Some of these individuals had failed to climb Mount Everest in the past and they did not want to fail again. In essence, the groups lacked a thorough strategy for of digging in or moving back if risks became too obvious. It indicates escalation of commitment on the part of members. (8) Both Hall & Fischer were leaders and visionaries of the groups’ strategy. However, during the expedition they became too occupied with the small operations and missed the possible opportunity to rethink and revise their overall plans and/or strategy. They could not adjust the perceptions of the team members and even allowed them to develop personal bias about the abilities of some of the members. (9) Physical and psychological condition of some members deteriorated but they continued to climb. The leaders not only disregarded these members’ capabilities but also dedicated time to help them. This time could be spent on making critically important decisions (e.g. a possible decision to delay or abandon the last phase knowing that climbers would have to descend at night). Leaders focused on their individual goals and were overtaken by sunk cost effect. (1) Individual, group and organizational capabilities should be mixed in a way that they can achieve organizational goals. Subgroups should be created within the groups so that a buddy system can evolve. There should be no tiered membership of a group with the exception of the top...
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