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Organizational Change

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Submitted By kaluanya63
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KALU ANYA
TECH 4850-SEMINAR IN ADMINISTRATIVE AND TECHNOLOGY MANAGEMENT
DR. CHRISTIE BURTON
9/16/2013
CASE STUDIES: MOUNT EVEREST
BY
MICHAEL A. ROBERTO AND GINA M. CARIOGGIA

Indeed it was an awesome tragedy that the world saw in the curvaceous terrain of Mount Everest in May of 1996. This tragedy claimed the lives of 15 mountaineering adventurers, while ninety-eight men and women who embarked on this venture achieved a remarkable fit of reaching the summit. Among these incredible men and women were Rob Hall and Scott Fischer known to be the world’s renowned high-altitude climbers. Unfortunately, Hall and Fischer with three others were among the dead.
Putting Mount Everest in historical, it should be noted that it is the tallest mountain in the world. Mount Everest is stands at 29,035.4 feet above the sea level. This claim was made by Radhanath Sikhdar in 1852. The range of the mountain is bordered between Nepal and Tibet. The Nepali people call the mountain Sagarmatha, meaning the goddess of the sky, and the Tibetans call it Chomolungma, signifying the mother goddess of the universe. It was Sir Andrew Waugh who renamed the mountain; Mount Everest in recognition of his predecessor, Sir George Everest was the first British Surveyor General of India. In 1922, George Mallory and his British team were the first to venture out on expedition of the mountain. Mallory and his team’s effort to reach the summit proved abortive. In 1924, in a desperate attempt for the summit again, Mallory and his climbing partner Andrew Irvine died. There is no historical evidence to ascertain that he and his partner reached the summit.
The history of Everest is fraught with desperate failures in which many climbers lost their lives. History was made and record set, when in May 29, 1953, Sir Edmond Hillary of New Zealand, and Tenzing Norgay of Nepal ascended to the summit at 8,850 meters through the South Col route. Over the years many more climbers have been able to reach the summit, and many countless numbers of people have lost their lives.
The 1996 expedition of Mount Everest was a commercial venture. Hall charged an exorbitant fee of $65,000 for each of his clients. Scott Fischer and Rob Hall were the leaders of two largest expeditions out of thirty expeditions that were scheduled to climb Mount Everest in 1996. There were multiple causes of the 1996 Everest catastrophe; these include remote and immediate causes. The remote causes include: the logistical problem which includes the Russian Customs, which hampered the supply of oxygen canisters to Nepal, and the delivery of high-altitude tent due to problem with the chartered plane; the problem of polluted air and the less than perfect sanitary conditions that produced a devastating respiratory and digestive problems also came to play. Many of the clients were ill-prepared for the ascent. It should be noted that logistical problems messed up Fischer’s acclimatization schedule, and had adversely affected his physical ability, yet he ignored this vital sign. Added to the acclimatization problem was that his health has deteriorated, and his limited communication with the rest of the pack. The use of antiquated radios was problematic. This problem incapacitated his ability to lead. The indecision to turnaround time in order to avoid dangerous situation was not strictly adhered to. It is remarkable that Fischer used a lot of time in the resolution of these unexpected contingencies which affected his planning strategy, his organization, his leadership, and his controlling; which is necessary for the successful existence of any organization. Applying the controlling aspect of the management function entails the responsibility of monitoring the team and to make amendments for the progress. Also lack of planning was also a factor to the tragic event at Mount Everest in 1996. Planning is a fundamental function of management. Planning would have helped him marshal out the team’s conduct and to familiarize himself with the weather condition on high-altitude. The importance of planning both for an individual, and for an organization cannot be overemphasized. According to Williams (2014), “Planning offers several benefits: intensified effort, persistence, direction, and creation of task strategies.” (p. 87). The climbers were equally to blame for the tragedy for failing to point out the deteriorating physical condition of Fischer. No member of the team had the courage to point to that he is incapable of leading. Many things went wrong; many of the climbers needed to get to the summit just to satisfy their personal self-aggrandizement. The authors noted that “Pittman needed to ascend Everest to complete her quest; she had failed in two earlier attempts to reach the summit.” Fischer on his part wanted Pitman just for promotion, although he knew that many of the skilled climbers detest the reckless abandon with which she seek publicity. Pete Schoening wanted to make history as the oldest man to reach the summit of Mount Everest. Lene Gammelgaard wanted to be the first Scandinavian woman to reach the summit. Fischer, even though he knew and accepted the fact that many of his clients had not trained enough to acclimatization with high altitude; he put up a nonchalant attitude, toward this fact. He down played it with pride when he stated that, “Experience is overrated”. Fischer was of the opinion that one’s attitude is in this venture is of paramount importance. He pointed out that high altitude is a secondary matter. Hall did not use his best judgment in letting Dr Weather continue even when his health was failing. Error in judgment on the part of Krakauer and Adams increased the likelihood of the tragedy. Their inability to think strategically and their blind devotion to authority help exacerbate this tragedy. Beidleman’s position as the third in the chain of command and his reservation of not voicing his concerns about the physical incapacity of most of his team member brings in the ethical and moral issues of this expedition. Boukreev was unable to develop relationships with the clients because he falters in English Language. Boukreev’s decision not to use supplemental oxygen was a flawed decision making process for a leader whose client depended upon him for physical and mental acuity that is necessary to help incapacitated clients. In this situation where individual reservation was overwhelming, no group member volunteered to play the devil’s advocate for fear recrimination. According to Williams (2013), “The devil’s advocacy can be used to create c-type conflict or cognitive conflict assigning an individual or a subgroup the role of a critic.” (p103). The notion that conflict is always bad does not hold true because many studies has concluded that conflict can enhanced the decision making process for individuals and organizations. Pride, arrogance, and lack of moral imagination contributed to the tragedy of the 1996 Everest expedition. It should be noted that ethical decision making involves some dilemmas, there are some consequences for the decisions that leaders make, sometimes it will be for the benefits of some stakeholders, and other times it will be at the detriment of others. “Moral imagination is one element that distinguishes good people who make ethically responsible decisions from good people who do not.” (Hartman, DesJardin, & MacDonald 2011) The weather condition was also a factor as to the reason why the tragedy occurred. Nature was against the climbers. They were faced with the treacherous wind of Mount Everest. The climbers had been misguided on the weather condition based on the weather forecast of the last five years where weather conditions had been favorable. According to Breashears the climbers were faced with much more severe weather, he pointed out that: Several seasons of good weather have led people to think of Everest as benevolent.
But in the mid-80s---before many of the guides had been on Everest---there were three consecutive [climbing] seasons when no one climbed the mountain because
Of the ferocious wind. Everest can be a place where people can’t see or move, where tents are ripped apart, where all the high-tech gear in the world can’t save you. (p. 7)

There were individual concerns as well as team concerns expressed during the course of this adventure. Right from the inception the journey some members were concerned about some of the members who lack high altitude climbing experience. Some members of the team were concerned about the incompetence of the Taiwanese, the South African, and the Norwegian pack. Hall saw the ineptness and unpreparedness of the group. He had the premonition that something terrible will and was concerned on saving some people. Dale Kruse’s presence provided a stir among the mountaineers who knew that Dale gets sick in high altitude. His ill-health will be an impediment to the progress of their ascent. Beidleman’s physical condition and his ability to lead the group was a concern. Trust and confidence on each other was of paramount importance to the group; these qualities were lacking and were almost nonexistent.
In order to go in-depth into the leadership styles of Hall and Fischer, let us take a look on what leadership and leadership style are. According to Goetsch (2002) “Leadership is the ability to inspire people to make a total and willing commitment to accomplish organizational goals.” (p. 1) On the other hand leadership style is the behavior of a leader toward his or her followers in any given situation. Goetsch also stated that (2002) “In a situational leadership, also called contingency leadership, leaders select a style appropriate to the circumstances and the individual involved.” (p. 7) Hall exhibited a goal oriented leadership with an autocratic overtone. Hall has in place a well organized procedure with the intention of focusing on the goal at hand---the goal being leading his clients to the summit of Mount Everest. As a goal-oriented leader he led by inspiring and motivating his group. He made decisions that were intended for the best interest and overall good of his clients. The institution of the turnaround policy was well thought out plan to save lives. He was definite on this policy even though he falters later. On the other hand his autocratic leadership style was demonstrated when he issued his instruction in a dictatorial manner. The mark of a dictator or despot is to make decision without consultations with the stakeholders who are affected by the decision he makes. As long as the group is on the ascent he will be the final arbiter in all the decision making process, according to him, “My word will be absolute law, beyond appeal.” Hall arrogated himself to the point of repugnance. He made himself the judge, the jury, and the executioner. On a closer examination of Hall’s declaration of absolute power, his judgment, his non-enforcement of the “Two O’clock Rule” one questions his mental and leadership ability. Information provided by the by the text indicated that Hall and Fischer knew that it will be near to impossibility to enforce the turnaround policy. Experience has shown that individual will be unwilling to turn around when they have come so close to the summit. A climber’s determination to reach the summit and fulfill his or her dream on reaching the summit even in the face of deteriorating physical strength can be a sign of poor decision making. A sound decision making process can be to strike a balance between cowardice and foolhardiness. Bravery will be a balance between cowardice and foolhardiness; this will be the decision to turn around when you realize that your mental and physical strength will not let you move ahead. As stated earlier leadership style can comein many different forms depending on the situation and who is involved. Fischer’s leadership style can be described as being democratic. Fischer understood the importance of assigning responsibilities and challenging his clients. He needed clients that are self-reliant and independent, a team that will make individual decisions that will not be detrimental to the welfare of the whole group. For him success was everything. Fame and recognition was important. His ambition to be successful was unparalleled. His ambition often beclouded his decision making process. In the course of the expedition Fischer made some mistakes that help shape the perceptions, the beliefs, and the choices that some of the clients made. His physical condition which he ignored was a game changer for many of the clients. Fischer’s lack of respect for Boukreev who had complained that Fischer never recognize his advice, and his inability to help solve the rope problem helped in shifting the perceptions, belief, and choices of some clients. Fischer’s arrogance and overconfidence contributed in no some measure to the tragedy. When asked about the dangers inherent in climbing Mount Everest, he pointed out that he his guiding because he was 100 percent sure of returning home. Talking about his wife he stressed that “She isn’t concerned about me at all when I’m guiding because I’m [going to] make all the right choices. When accidents happen, I think it’s always human error.” Fischer was only focusing on the human equation of errors and negated the natural causes of the weather condition that will be more devastating.
There are many lessons to be learned by managers and businesses. Managers and businesses should recognize the need for their organization to employ the four principal functions of management in the day to running of their organization which include: planning organizing, leading, and controlling. One of the most devastating contributions to the Everest tragedy was lack of communication. Communication between the leaders and the led was virtually non-existent. The use of outdated radio communication did not help but hampered the effectiveness and efficiency of the communication endeavor. It should be noted that autocratic style of leadership will not be good for any organization.
Managers and businesses should invest in the training of the employees in the area of decision making processes, where they will learn how to identify and anticipate problems, consider all available alternatives, and then choose the best alternative by monitoring and watching for the best results. Managers and businesses should look in to communications between employees on higher and lower management level. The breaking down of communication link due to faulty and antiquated radio was a hindrance in the 1996 Everest fiasco. Also investment in the improvement company infrastructure and other resources will help businesses achieve their long term and short term organizational goals.
The chronology of the mistakes made by the leaders in the 1996 Everest tragedy cannot be overlooked; it will serve as a lesson in for businesses and for leaders all over the world to realize that the decisions we make affect not only us, but a wide range of stakeholders. However, Hall and Fischer the leading protagonists in the 1996 Everest saga might have made some avoidable human errors, but bad weather was the final arbiter to the tragedy.

References
Goetsch, D. (2002). Effective Supervision: A Guidebook for supervisors, team leaders, and work coaches. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.
Hartman, L. P., & DesJardins, J. R. (2014). Business ethics: Decision making for personal integrity and social responsibility. New York, NY: McCraw-Hill.
William, C. (2014). MGMT5: What's Inside: Student Tested, Faculty-Approved Approach to Learning Principles of Management. Mason, OH: South-Western Cengage Learning.…...

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