Presentation Synopsis

Problem solving at the highest levels of an organization involves complex decision making followed by decisive action. The willingness to accept calculated risk is inherent in the process. By emphasizing personal expertise, finely tuned planning, and the cutting away of excess fat in the analysis of the task, even the most difficult challenges can be met successfully by very small teams.

Until now the loftiest of the Himalayan summits were thought to be attainable only through the well documented tactics of large climbing teams backed by massive and complicated support systems. Unfortunately, these efforts are both very costly and cumbersome. The efficiency of such methods is low since overprotective backup systems are built into the process. Presumably this strategy reduces the chance of failure and provides a measure of safety in the event of an accident.

What is becoming clear is that the mountaineering practices used currently in the Himalaya are not the most efficient. Furthermore, it is difficult to say whether these methods are actually providing a higher percentage of "successes" than the implementation of a new breed of lightweight, cost-effective tactics that are being utilized by compact teams of highly skilled mountaineers.

The old wisdom taught us that while small teams could handle the relatively minor challenges of less complex problem solving, a much larger organizational structure was necessary to ensure success at the most pivotal and complex levels. The new evidence coming forth disputes this conclusion.

In this presentation I will explain, through my own personal experience, the development of mountaineering strategies in the Himalayan mountains. By allowing an understanding of the evolution of climbing methods, the present day shift of tactics from the massive and complicated to the streamlined and cost-effective will become clear. Drawing from these analogies in mountaineering, organizations will find this trend towards downsizing and "fleetness of foot" to give way to some highly thought provoking possibilities.

Topics will include:

Increasing trust in one's partners.

Decreasing reaction time to new conditions.

Increasing individual output.

Minimizing exposure time to risk.

Eliminating task duplication.

Reducing wasted energy on group politics.

Avoiding energy drain with good timing.