The simulation we played through consisted of a group of 5 poeple working together to reach the summit of Mt. Everest. Each member of the team was given a different role and a different set of objectives. As the team progressed through the simulation, climbing up the mountain as we went, we were met with a variety of challenges that ranged from health concerns to weather problems and supplemental oxygen management. With each problem that we encountered, members of the team were given different information that only with proper communication did it yield the correct answer to our dilemma.
The most compelling lesson I took away from the Everest Simulation was the need to share as much information as possible when working in a team. Each member of a team brings different information to the table and they need to be given the space to share as much of that information as possible. Next time I am in a leadership role, I will make an effort to make sure everyone is invited to contribute their knowledge before we move to solve the problem at hand. By sharing information first, we will be better equipped to find a solution to the problem at hand.
Our team delt with the disparity of information in a few ways as we progressed through the simulation. In the beginning, we did not realize we had different information so there was significant confusion during the problem-solving process. After we realized there was different information, we tried to be more intentional about gathering information from every member of the team but still depended on members volunteering information. This was mostly successful, but some information was left unshared which led to us not performing as well as we could have.
Common information is more easily shared during discussions because information is deemed more important and accurate when held by multiple people. It can be a form of confirmation bias as people focus on information that is consistent with what they already believe to be true.
I think the simulation showed me to power of information and interest asymmetries. The simulation made it clear that even the smallest disparity in information can have detrimental effect on team performance. In the future, I plan to address this by encouraging information sharing as much as possible. By providing each person with a platform to share their perspective and information, it will help bridge the information gap and put the group on the pathway to success.
Creating a psychologically safe environment is crucial for leaders because without it, members of a team will not be comfortable sharing their perspectives and the team performance will suffer as a result. I will apply this knowledge in future leadership roles by trying to foster an inclusive community and working to lead as fairly as possible. When people believe others on the team are above them or are being favored by the leader, it can discourage them from sharing their opinion. To prevent this, I will try to promote a team environment where everyone feels equally valued and is willing to share their thoughts openly.
The saying “process matters” is a reference to the idea that the pathway of decision making and the “process” that a team takes when developing solutions has a large impact on the performance and success rate of the team. Teams that pay little attention to their decision-making process and are unorganized in their approach may not see great results compared to a team that does. With bad process, teams may lose track of important information and lose sight of their goals as a team. Leaders can improve process by managing discussion so all members get to speak, listen actively, and intentionally structuring debate time to better encourage discussion. All of these concepts work to promote improve the flow of debates and encourage members of the team to speak openly.