Mount Everest–1996 Harvard Case Solution & Analysis

Question# 3: What is your evaluation of Scott Fischer and Rob Hall as team leaders? Did they make some Poor decisions? If so, why?

Scott Fischer and hall both were very good at climbing mount Everest and were accomplished and experienced in climbing high altitudes, but failed badly in leading a team towards the same goal. Both have individual expertise and skills for climbing such high altitudes, but didn’t have sufficient knowledge and abilities and grouping, organizing and leading a team. Especially in the case of Fischer it was prominent that he is arranging the expedition in order to compete with Hall and lack prior experience in leading a team.

Bad leadership is highlighted through poor decision making, which was transparent in their decisions. Hall poor decision making is reflected in many of his decisions, such as by not adhering the 1pm turnaround time rule. This decision was very crucial and was vital towards his death as his other teammates, including the Sherpas, Taske and Hutchinson strictly followed the rule and survived although they were very close to the summit.  A second example of a poor decision by Hall was reflected in his decision of assisting a single member to reach the summit by moving ahead and leaving all the other team members behind. The decision was a poor reflection of setting priorities as the team was expecting a storm which turned into a hurricane and the team members that were left behind by Hall caught into it and couldn’t retrieve their way towards the tents. The decision to assist a single member while leaving and ignoring the safety of other members was clearly a poor decision by Hall and bad choice in setting the priorities.

Other important reasons were the leadership style of Hall, which had no room for difference in opinion that was very discouraging towards communication between the members and the leaders. The hall’s decision of allowing Boukreev to climb the summit with supplemental oxygen forced Bouyrkeev to move downwards quickly, which left the team without a guide in their downward movement. This decision was not questioned by anyone due to the rigidness in the style of Hall, which further led to other disasters.

Analyzing the decisions of Fischer, the first very important fact that is prominent was the lack of experience of Fischer as he was only competing with Hall and in doing did not focus on many aspects. The lack experience led him towards not paying attention to many key aspects relating to safety of the team and things that were necessarily required for the expedition. Another major decision that went wrong was not putting the right man to lead the team or guide the team upwards. On the contrary, Fischer ordered the most experienced guide from the Sherpas, who was moving ahead without supplementary oxygen to guide a single team member upwards. The man with the experience and who was supposed to lead and guide the entire team was assigned a less important task which was not correct and reflected poor decision making of Fischer. Fischer was climbing the summit without supplementary oxygen as he was overconfident about his goal that led towards a decline in his health and made him weak during the course of the expedition. This eventually became the reason of his death and was a poor decision.

Poor decision making reflected in almost every decision taken by hall and Fischer as they paid no attention in choosing and selecting the team, security measure, developing teamwork and improving communication among the team members, and following the rules that were set and most importantly not focusing on developing a plan B.

Question # 4: What are the lessons from this case for business managers?

Managers in organizations need to develop goals, aims and objectives, vision and mission of the company and need to dictate and clearly communicate these to their employees as they are the most valuable assets of any organization. Employee’s participation and dedication tremendously depends on the clear communication of the firm's vision and only then employees can support the vision of the firm. Getting the employee input is also important in decision making and best leaders not only communicate but also encourage feedback to shape their decisions. Teamwork is vital for success in any organization and the firms that pay a considerable amount in developing a team centric approach and developing communication not just to employees but between employees as well will see fruitful results.

Managers can analyze the Mount Everest incident and can learn many techniques that will help them avoid failure in their organizations. The first and the most important lesson is to encourage teamwork in an organizations as it helps in improving not just the productivity of the employees but also improve the organizational culture as well..............................

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