HBS Case Review: Mt. Everest Case Study Sample

Table of Content


The instance of Mt. Everest focuses on two commercial expeditions. Adventure Consultants and Mountain Madness. and the tragic event on May 10. 1996. These two commercial expeditions were lead by Rob Hall and Scott Fischer. and were consisted of 20 members. Both leaders were experient climbers. but due to several factors. the expedition resulted into five deceases including Hall and Fischer. The event has thought directors to measure the importance of leading together with its internal and external factors that directors should see to last in the high hazard concern universe.

Case Study Questions

Why did this calamity occur and what are the root causes of this catastrophe?

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The Mt. Everest calamity occurred because of jobs ensuing from the relationship of cognitive prejudice. psychological safety. and complex system theory together with the specific leading manners and squad beliefs that were present with the people involved.

Cognitive Biass

Cognitive prejudice is “a form of divergence in judgement that occurs in peculiar state of affairss. which may sometimes take to perceptual deformation. inaccurate judgement. unlogical reading. or what is loosely called irrationality” ( Wikipedia ) . In the instance of Mt. Everest. unreason was present throughout the members. including the leaders.

For case

Hansen’s statement “I’ve put excessively much of myself into this mountain to discontinue now. without giving it everything I’ve got” ( Roberto and Carioggia. p. 9 ) and Weather’s insistent in go oning to mount the mountain in malice of his one oculus being wholly blurred are both grounds of perceptual deformation. Another illustration is the cognition of both Fischer and Hall sing the rigorous “Two O’clock Rule” but both failed to implement it. demoing inaccurate judgement. Finally. unlogical reading of recent good conditions on the mountain as something that will go on was irrational. These cognitive prejudices resulted in hapless judgement and contributed to the failure of the squad.

Psychological Safety

Psychological safety is “a shared belief held by members of a squad that the squad is safe for interpersonal hazard taking” ( JSTOR ) . The squad members of the Mt. Everest showed deficiency of psychological safety throughout the members. Boukreeve from the Mountain Madness squad showed this failing with his concerns sing his team’s overall degree of preparedness. Krakauer’s deficiency of trust towards his members was besides apparent with his statement. “For the most portion I attributed my turning unease to the fact that I’d ne’er climbed as a member of such a big group—a group of complete aliens. no less” ( Roberto and Carioggia. p. 5 ) . The absence of psychological safety failed the squads to larn from each other. which weakened their public presentation and prevented them to make good relationship as a squad.

Complex System Theory

The calamity of Mt. Everest is non a consequence of one individual error. but instead a consequence of multiple complex failures. This complexness is about like a concatenation reaction that worsens the state of affairs. Using Hall’s squad as an illustration. jobs started looking before the squad even started their expedition. First. the job with the Russian lodger imposts delayed the O bringing. Second. a charter plane stalled the high-level collapsible shelter bringing. Then the state of affairs was worsened with the bad conditions and struggle with the Nepali’s demand for a big pay addition.

Another issue was the misguided premise by both Hall and Fischer of another squad. the Montenegrin squad. put ining adequate rope for the full way to the acme. This was besides worsened with the leading manner of Hall take a firm standing that all clients should wait for the ushers before continuing. This safety process besides slowed the team’s patterned advance. All these events contributed to one big crisis that deteriorated as the squad tried to make the acme.

Puting all three jobs together would propose the root behind the Mt. Everest’s calamity. Lack of psychological safety within the squad members failed to repair cognitive prejudice of unreason. If members developed trust within the squad. cognitive prejudice could hold been prevented or at least minimized. The truth that climbers might do irrational determinations and happen it difficult to turn back when they are so closed to the acme was obvious. but teammates seeing this job did non talk up since they did non experience that their ideas were welcome and felt uneasy.

More cognitive prejudices could besides been prevented to decrease the complex system of the expedition. Since mounting Mt. Everest is already a high hazard venture. any extra jobs such as irrational determinations can do a crisis. Using the early mark of issues with Hall’s team’s advancement. it was obvious that the chance of neglecting the expedition was high before the squad even started. Hallway could hold used the issues as a mark of the complex systems that exist. and could hold used this cognition to forestall any irrational determinations. The complex systems and the deficiency of psychological safety besides contributed to the calamity.

The squad members failed to pass on and swear each other. which so added more jobs to the complex systems. For case. Boukreev’s could hold spoken up to his squad leader. Fischer. about his concerns sing his squad members missing experience to get down with. By talking up. he could hold prevented more concatenation reaction due to deficiency of communications and feedback within the squad.

What is your rating of Scott Fisher and Rob Hall as leaders? Did they make hapless determinations and why?

Hall and Fischer both showed to be strong leaders. With this being said they both failed to put a good function theoretical account for their followings and failed to equilibrate their place and the state of affairs good. Both leaders hold an highly high assurance that prevented them from doing the best determinations and prevented them to have feedbacks from their followings.

Hallway showed his assurance by boasting that “he could acquire about any reasonably fit individual to the summit” ( Roberto and Carioggia. p. 6 ) . He was besides house that his waies to his followings should be treated as an “absolute law” . which so prevented his followings to offer their cognition and positions. Openness was restricted due to Hall’s strong control towards his followings. This. in bend. stopped his followings from talking up. even on the simplest state of affairss. Krakauer mentioned that his “ability to spot the obvious was exacerbated to some grade by the guide-client protocol” ( p. 12 ) where clients should ever follow their guide’s determinations. Hall failed to utilize his place to promote openness and good leader-follower communications within his squad.

Fischer was 100 per centum sure that he will be coming back and will be doing all the right picks. This besides shows utmost assurance and bossy leading. which prevented his followings from giving feedbacks and offering their expertness. For case. Jangbu did non state anything “out of regard to his authority” ( p. 11 ) and continued to tow Pittman on a short-rope for about six hours and carried Pittman’s orbiter phone for hours. This caused Jangbu to be exhausted and ill on acme twenty-four hours and prevented him to make his responsibility as the lead Sherpa.

Fischer’s bossy leading continued on to the remainder of the squad members as shown with Beidleman’s behaviour sing the concatenation of bid stipulating that Boukreev is higher than him and must be followed irrespective of the state of affairss. Even during the worst when Fischer’s wellness was evidently deteriorating. cipher discussed the issue. Beside for the feedback limitations. Fischer was besides excessively confident to acknowledge that the state of affairs is non allowing him to be a leader at that point. He failed to inquire for person to take over and acknowledge that his leading and the state of affairs can no longer be balanced by himself.

What are the lessons that can be learned from this instance for general directors in concern endeavors?

The biggest lesson that directors in concern endeavors can larn from Mt. Everest is to larn from errors but to besides acknowledge other failures that contributed to the errors. The calamity has surely showed leading failure. but this failure is non the lone cause. Directors should acknowledge that cognitive prejudices. squad beliefs. psychological safety. and complex systems besides contributed to the consequence of the event. They are non separately an account of why the calamity happened. but instead their interrelatedness that resulted in a catastrophe. It might be easier to indicate finger to one specific beginning of failure. but it would besides be unreasonable.

Business directors should be able to place the overall organisational failure ensuing from internal and external factors. In the Mt. Everest instance. the internal is the leading and the squad beliefs. while the external is the environment and unanticipated crisis. The calamity should remind directors and leaders that the concern universe is non a simple organisation that can be controlled with one manus. but instead a connexion of multiple forces that is sometimes out of our ability to manage. Understanding and larning from the errors can minimise those multiple forces from going a catastrophe.


The unfortunate events at Mt. Everest in 1996 has thought directors the importance of leading together with cognitive prejudices. squad beliefs. psychological safety. and complex systems that directors should see to last in the high hazard concern universe. Many people have analyzed that Hall and Fischer were the exclusive cause of the calamity. but to indicate finger to one part of the of all time turning organisational system would be unjust.

As stated by Krakauer’s note. “mistakes may hold been made. but they emphasized that mounting Everest will ever be a hazardous and unsafe endeavor” ( Roberto and Carioggia. p. 14 ) . Many factors have contributed to an already hazardous end. Merely those who see the relationship between the factors and the end can take place good lessons from such a grievous event.

My recommendation is to larn from the consequence of Mt. Everest’s expedition and to go on to place organisational factors that should be considered when doing managerial determinations. I agree with Boukreev that “To mention a specific cause would be to advance an omniscience that merely Gods. rummies. politicians. and dramatic authors can claim” ( p. 14 ) .

We live in a existent universe where we are surrounded by many facets of life that we can and/or can non command. To fault one little portion of this existent universe as the ground to a certain error will be an hyperbole. On the other manus. to fault all and non recognize the connexions is uncomplete. To value those five lives that were lost. we should larn that even with merely 22 climbers on May 10. 1996. it was already highly difficult pull offing the psychological. societal. and situational facets of the events. Try using that to the whole universe with one million millions of people to see and an eternal possibility of the unexpected. To exceed it all off. seek happening a exclusive beginning and state with an absolute certainty that it is the root of all it all: now that is merely irresponsible.


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