Climbing Mount Everest… virtually

On Friday, I participated in the Everest simulation where a group of 5 worked on a team to climb Mount Everest and attempt to collect points for successfully completing a variety of goals and challenges. During the simulation, each member of the team was assigned a different role and we had to communicate to make decisions that would equally benefit each member of the team. I was assigned to be the group leader. Even though we made decisions as a team, each member had the option to choose whatever path they decided. After each member was assigned their roles, we decided to review everybody’s missions and general information about their respective characters so that we could create a game plan to keep everybody on the same track. 

The most compelling lesson that I took away from playing the Everest simulation is that it is important to seek out the unknowns and to allow everybody to share information that they have. Even if information may seem irrelevant, it is important to not only share all the information you know, but to ask others for details of information they may have not thought to share. Next time I find myself in a leadership position, I am going to make sure that I pay attention to all information that is made available and actively try to seek out the details that are not being shared. 

Throughout the simulation, our team did not fully realize the extent of how much information was being given to individuals that was not shared across the board. We did realize in some circumstances as we discussed the information on our screens, but in some situations, we failed to openly communicate all information that was given. Personally, in the adrenaline rush from trying to succeed in climbing the mountain, I overlooked information that was given to me and I failed to understand the importance of the small details. Overall, I believe our team did a fairly good job at sharing the most distinct information that we were given, but failed to pay attention and share any detailed information that may have not seemed to be as important on the surface level.

Sharing common information is done more easily because as soon as one person mentions one thing that is recognized by another member, they can continue a discussion on that material. If only one person is given information, they may think it is less important due to the fact that no one else is mentioning the information. In addition, the Common Information Effects shows that sharing common information is more likely because it is more probable to discuss information that multiple people can relate to rather than focusing on information that only one person can speak about. This could be related to our first activity as a group where a pair of people talked to find three commonalities. This was easy to do because it led to upbeat conversation that was easy to relate to and build off of. In addition, sharing information that is not common among the group may lead to more intense conversation where decisions have to be considered more thoroughly. Sharing information that can cause this is intimidating because there is the assumption that people will not want to alter their original decisions and bringing new information into the mix would cause debate (even though debate is the best way to ensure a proper decision is being made). 

As a result of this simulation, my thoughts about information asymmetries changed because I have learned to understand the importance and different views. In other simulations we have done so far, I have also learned about the importance of seeking out diverse opinions and welcoming debate. This simulation furthered this point by showing that sharing information that is different from the information that everybody else has gives way to new perspectives and can lead to the best decision being made. In my next leadership role, I plan to address this by opening the floor to information about all matters of a situation. I will attempt to do this by asking specific questions to individuals and suspending initial judgement until all information has been shared. 

Creating a psychologically safe environment is critical for leaders because it allows members of a team to feel comfortable sharing any information they may have and opposing a decision that may have already been established. It is important for all members of a team to share their opinions and ideas in order to ensure that the right decision is being made. To create a safe environment, it is important to reduce the emphasis of status differences, encourage communication between members of a team, celebrate courageous behavior, remove yourself as a leader from a group to facilitate conversation between other team members, and more. 

Process Matters refers to being a leader that accomplishes goals by also maintaining a good reputation. This means being a leader that is respected and listened to. Some initiatives that can be used to relate to the process are creating a safe environment and improving company communication.

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