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Everest Report Essay

The Everest simulation is a group and team exercise that encourage us to play a unique role of a team of hikers, attempting to reach the summit of Mount Everest. The simulation is designed so that members are dependent on each other and are encouraged to work collectively in order to achieve the highest team goal outcome possible whiles simultaneously completing as much personal goals as the members can.

The purpose of the report is to anyalyse the team experience while applying a range of subjects, concepts and theories that is learnt in the course “managing people and organization” to out experience, illustrating the

1. Group and teams
2. Power and Conflict
3. attitudes, perception and personality

The simulation requires team members to be able to lead, to participate and to communicate and motivate each other effectively while making critical decisions in response to different situations and circumstances in each stages of the simulation while considering the different information each members received and the conflicting or opposing interests of each members.

The experience gives us a first-hand insight into working as a team, it has enabled us to identify the benefits and the potential problem of working in a team or work group in the contemporary and dynamic business environment. We experience how conflict, power, collective thinking, and attitudes can be managed and influence to either benefit the team performance or hinder it.

The Everest group simulation is a web-based simulation/ exercise produced by the Harvard Business School Where five or six students are placed into a formal group and each are assigned individual, unique and vital role to play by the system. Additionally, each individuals are given specific goals/mission in respect to their roles. The students are encouraged to work collectively as a team of hikers attempting to reach the summit of Mount Everest, whilst completing as many team and individual goals as they possibly can. The simulation covers a range of subjects, concepts and theories that is learnt in the course “managing people and organization”, illustrating the

4. Group and teams
5. Power and Conflict
6. attitudes, perception and personality

The simulation requires team members to be able to lead, to participate and to communicate and motivate each other effectively while making critical decisions in response to different situations and circumstances in each stages of the simulation while considering the different information each members received and the conflicting or opposing interests of each members.


Using Tucker’s five stages of group devleopment as the basis on describing the Everest Simulation.

The forming stage began when every students were randomly assigned to a temporary team of 5 or 6 for the purpose of completing the everest simulation. During the tutorial, the team members had the chance to briefly introduced themselves and then proceed to discussing the team contract and at the end, members exchanged personal information as described by Tuckman (Maples 2008) . There was anxiety as we were stangers at first, curiosity of how the simulation experience will look like, and positive expectation for the team, as desrcibed by Lacoursiere and Spitz (Tuckman 1977).

It is important to note that when using Tucker’s five stages of group development(Tuckman 1977) to describe our team experience, our team did not proceed sequentially from one stage to the next ie. from forming to storming, norming performing and lastly adjourning, as described by Tucker (Tuckman 1977). Rather, our group tends to occasionally regress back to previous stages of group development; as our team is always moving back and forth between the storming, norming and performing stage.

The storming stage occured when our team were discussing the team contract. This stage is described by Tuckman as characterised of intragroup conflict (Tuckman 1977) For example, Everyone had their own opinions on which communication tool to use before, during and after the simulation and had their own preference on the location to meetup to run the simulation.

We proceed to the norming stage when conflict of opinions are identified during the team contract. Noting that we were all strangers, the team contract discussion went smoothly as everyone was demonstrating a positive attitude and behaviour with agreeableness driven by the desire to get along and to be accepted by one another, and to avoid any serious potential conflict.Tuckman described this procces as devleoping group cohesion (Tuckman 1977) (Maples 2008) .The day and time to meet for the simulation was established rather quick as no one was traveling or had conflicting schedule. Although there were few suggestions of location to meet up prior the simulation, a solution came up rather quickly.

The team decided to use communication tool, i.e. mobile phone or email before and after the simulation as to discuss any further issues/problem prior and after the simulation. However most of the time our communication is via email. For the day of the simulation, the whole team member agreed on meeting and communicating face to face.

We regressed back to the storming stage when prior to the first stage of the simulation, roles are given to us i.e. Leader, Marathon runner, environmentalist, photographer, physician and observer; and individual and team goals are assigned. In this stage, new problems and issues are addressed and conflicting opinions are voiced out by each member. i.e. How is the team going to simultaneously meet the team goals and personal goals as well as reaching the summit while avoiding being rescue.

We move forward to the norming stage again when when roles and relationship has been accepted and familiarized, and personal goals has been reviewed as described by Tuckman (Maples 2008); team contract was also refereed back to in order to remind some members of how we are going to proceed throughout the simulation. During this stage, there was cohesiveness, cooperation and collaboration as described by Maples (maples 2008) between members as everyone wanted to achieve our primary goal of reaching the summit as a team. Our team undergo the performing stage when completing round 1 of the simulation after problem have been solved and final decision have been made (maples 2008).

However, our team regressed back to the storming stage when new problems occurred at round 2 and new conflicting opinions are raised by team members. This trend of going back and forth between storming and performing stage continue to occur as our team progresses to each new rounds, new problems are presented such as frostbite or changing health condition forcing our team to regressed back to the storming stage. Unfortunately the end results of team goals and my individual goals indicated a bad performance by our team.

This is the adjourning stage of our temporary group where the Everest simulation is completed, roles and duties are terminated as described by Tuckman (Maples 2008), and the members are concern with the disengagement and termination of the group as described by Braaten (Tuckman 1977). To some members, there is some sense of achievement i.e. 2 out of 5 reached the summit, to others, there might be some sense of regret as we know we could of done better. After the simulation, we continue to discuss about the simulation experience via email and face to face.

Analysis on experience based on groups and teams

It was beneficial that our team agree to meet face-to-face rather than communicating virtually when running the simulation. It reflects the fact that our team is considered a future team described by Algae as having little experience as an intact team or share no past history with team members but expects to have an extended future with fellow members. (Algae 2003) Furthermore, the simulation is designed so that each members are interdependent of each other due to their roles and task in the simulation; as a result, our team is motivated to be open and trusting with one another during the simulation and tend to share information prior the simulation and during the early stages of the simulation similar to the argument of Algae. (Algae 2003)

Our team has also set certain standards and norms during our team contract discussion which members are expected to follow, i.e. expected individual attendance, being punctual and participate and engage in discussion and active listening; we believe that the later(participation) will benefit our team decision-making process during the simulation.

While our team tends to be open and communicative during the early stages by expressing their opinions and generating diverse alternatives for decision making, we tend to be less engage in decision making during the later stages of the simulation. Consequently, 3 out of 5 of our members were rescued off the mountain after round 3. I suspect that we have fallen into the trap of group-think where some of the members adopt an agreeableness personality and therefore may have contribute to poor decision making as described by Charles (Charles 1997).

As we are a self-managing team, evidently we tend to be cohesive and emphasized excessively on majority voting and support our team goals rather than our own personal opinion therefore contributing to the occurrence of group-think, and this is similary argued in Charles article (Charles 1997) Additionally, I felt that we have also forgotten about the team contract and the norm that we have set which states we must contribute to the decision-making process, as we do not occasionally refer back to the contract.

What could have been done to reduce group-think is to develop a strong group norm/culture that values debate and disagreement from group members and to continuously promote and encourage team-think characterized of divergent views, open expression and discussion of collective doubts (Charles 1997).

Power and Conflict

Analysis of experience based on power and conflict

To what extent of power each member has wasn’t important as members were treated with equal importance as the simulation is designed so that we are interdependent on each other. Furthermore, we agreed to adopt a shared leadership therefore everyone would feel equal, valued and involved. Although the leader was assigned to have the higher power due to his higher position in the hierarchy within the team, team members did not express any concern or demonstrate any negative attitude in response to his role. According to Bachrach, Baratz and Dahl, power is define as the ability to influence others to do something that it would not otherwise have done (politis 2005). By accepting this definition, our team did not exercised power enough to promote conflict during the simulation.

Our team tends to hold a strong traditional view of conflict where conflict is seen as a problem that should be minimize or suppressed rather than the contemporary view of conflict where differences in opinions, alternatives and opposing views can be a positive sign teams in terms of decision making, as stated by Hellriegel (Darling 2001). As a result, our team only engaged in numerous minor level of conflict. For example, during the team contract discussion, members freely and comfortably expressed their different opinions of locations that they find suitable to meet up. The fact that we are all strangers, gives us the incentive to avoid high level of conflict that may offend personal feelings and threaten relationships.

As we progress through further rounds, I notice how it took a relatively shorter amount of time to make the final decisions in response to new problems and to proceed to the further stages. For example, when distributing the canister prior to proceed to the summit, there wasn’t a single opposing view by any of the other team members. This may indicate that the team members have continuously avoid conflict. Consequently, we did not achieve a high proportion of our team goals and my own personal goals. This trend supports Chen’s study and Song’s argument that adopting an avoiding conflict management behavior reduces team’s innovation performance. (Chen 2012)

Culture may also play a part in our attitude towards conflict as we are all of Asian heritage; as Chen argued that “Chinese managers rely on an avoiding style because of their relatively high value on conformity and tradition; but US managers rely more on a competing style because of their relatively high value on individual achievement.” (Chen 2012)

Something that is noteworthy from our team experience is the connection between avoiding conflict management and group-think which both occurred during our simulation, Cheng argued that adopting an avoiding behavior makes it very difficult for team to create open discussions or generate alternatives for decision making as seen in our team experience and therefore leads to the occurrence of group-thinks. (Chen 2012) As a result, What was lacking in our team is the persistent promotion of conflict in the later stages of the simulation; Consequently, it lead to a avoiding behavior and higher occurrence of group-think.

Amason noted 2 types of conflict, cognitive conflict, that improve team’s effectiveness by encouraging team members to participate in decision making and generate variety of ideas and opinions; and affective conflict, that hinders team effectiveness by provoking hostility and distrust among members. (Amason 1995). The leader should have consider using his legitimate power to promote cognitive conflict and encouraged members to comfortably and freely voice out objection or opinions.

As I identify myself as an introvert, I tend to have a habit of not voicing out my opinion or express my view that may be in conflict with the other members decisions; this has happen in some occasion during the simulation. For example, when the environmentalist and myself are both in a weak condition, the doctor suggest that medicine should be given to the environmentalist and I agree without considering the situation for myself and the environmentalist.

Another example, is when the leader announce the distribution of canister, I didn’t question his method however I was concern; consequently I did not make it to the summit as I ran out of oxygen. As Webb hypothesized, extroverted persons would participate more actively in group interaction than would introverted persons (Webb 1982) I find myself valuing personal feelings in surface level and tend to have strong view about traditional conflict therefore have the urge to avoid conflict.

Attitudes, Perception and Personality

Analysis of experience based on attitude, perception and personality

During early stages of the simulation, our team was demonstrating a positive personality and attitude towards the simulation and other team members with openness and trust. Consequently, We were promoting organizational citizenship behavior(OCB) while simultaneously avoiding any workplace misbehavior. This is supported by Chiaburu findings that emotional stability, extraversion and openness promote higher citizenship relative to conscientiousness and agreeableness (Chiaburu 2011).

This behaviors was partly due to the fact that the simulation was a one off event and therefore there is no second chances if we make a potential mistake due to any misbehavior; we don’t want to mess up or leave a bad impression especially since we are considered as future teams with no past history or relationship with each other(algae 2003). Another reason may be that we are all from an Asian heritage and therefore we tend to relate to each other easily.

One of the problem with the design of the simulation is that the roles were assign to us without our preferences. Therefore the leader was unable to consider our personality and values that would best fit the 6 available roles and unable to initiate structure, that is, defining and structuring roles of group members ( Kerr 1974) For example, the observer was more involved in decision making and had a more proactive personality in comparison to myself and therefore may have done a better performance if assigned to another role.

Although her role exclude her from running the simulation, she tend to be highly involved and felt that she had gain a job satisfaction. What some of the members such as myself lack is a proactive personality and attitude in later stages. This pro-activity that is characterized of people who identify opportunities, show initiative, take action.

Perception can be a dangerous factor that may have hinder our team outcomes. Although there wasn’t a time limit established for the simulation, our team perceived a time limit for the simulation therefore felt a need to rush in the process. Evidently, in late stages, we tend to accept choices straight away without coming up with alternatives, decision making felt relatively faster as we progress through further rounds. In some occasions, information is perceived as of no relevance or we tend to underestimate or overlook the information given. For example, we think too highly of our health status and as long as we are not critical, we will be fine. Consequently we ignored the frostbite warning, our doctor got rescued due to a severe frostbite.

The members also perceived that the leader know what is best for the team and has experience leading, and therefore we do not voice out. The same example, when our leader was distributing the canister, no one question his judgment. However, little do we know that the leader may be inexperience or have limited knowledge like us in regards to leading as he was only given the role during the simulation and had no time to plan.

Additionally, while our team tends to be more analytical and calculative in the early stages, our team tends to be more risk taking in the later stage; For example, we have strong support for our goal to reach the summit as a team rather than sacrificing any of our members therefore canister was distributed to everyone however subconsciously, I knew that both me and the environmentalist wouldn’t make in with the limited canister, neither me nor her would wish to offend each other by asking one another to sacrifice , as a result, both me and the environmentalist ran out of oxygen .


The Everest simulation was a beneficial experience by providing me insights into the team environment. Through the simulation, our team was able to apply theories and knowledge learned from the course Mgmt 1001 to practical use in team situations, demonstrating the relevance and logic behind these theories. The experience has enable us to identify the benefits and the potential problem of working in a team or work group. The benefit includes effective communication, collective thinking, cognitive conflict, generating diverse alternatives and opinions while the potential problem includes ineffective communication, conformity, group-think and affective conflict. Ultimately, it depends on the teams ability to manage this issues in order to achieve high performance and effective decision making..

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