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Case Study / Under Pressure

The Business: Extreme expedition

The Rivers of Ice expedition was the first attempt at an unsupported (human power only and no food caches) crossing of the Southern Patagonian Ice Cap.

In terms of business challenges this can be compared with being a thought and strategy leader in challenging times, or in a challenging market place. What needs to be done differently to be the first to succeed? How far can you push performance? How will you deal with setbacks so you bounce forward? How are people and processes managed under pressure? In crises how are the right decisions made to ensure survival and success?


The Challenges

Given the extreme environment develop their self and each-other awareness and put in place tools and techniques to maximise strengths and minimise the potentially dysfunctional aspects of their personalities that when stressed, tired, cold, hungry, etc might potentially derail the expedition and erode the quality of their relationship.

How we worked together


A semi structured interview coupled with discussion of feedback from the ‘bright’ (Hogan Personality Inventory™) and ‘dark’ side (Hogan Development Survey™) personality profiles. Reading up on the research into psychological effects of this type of extreme environment.


To improve performance through managing how they worked together:

  • the decision making
  • daily tasks
  • managing their relationship on three different levels:
    1. as individuals
    2. as a team
    3. as a couple
  • knowing when it was appropriate to work from each relationship perspective and when it was necessary to shift to another perspective.


The sessions before the expedition focused on working with the clients to:
1.    managing their different relationships: as a team, as a couple and as individuals.
2.    clarifying roles and responsibilities
3.    put in place and practice tools and techniques to manage themselves and each other
4.    Thinking through potential ‘what if’ scenarios

During the expedition the sessions were limited to 5-10 minute satellite phone calls and focused on:

  • Distraction techniques for managing loneliness and isolation (days of strong winds, zero visibility)
  • Managing frustration and impatience
  • Refocusing on goals, motivation and strengths
  • Communicating and sharing ideas, open questions and listening


The expedition successfully travelled across the ice cap for 30 days making good progress towards their goal, in challenging conditions yet still within their physical capabilities, they are the fastest to the Fella Recchart Cerro Mayo section (75% of the distance) where their tent was destroyed and they made the decision that descending the Spegazzini Glacier was their best exit strategy. They have now committed to returning in 2010 with an adapted strategy of ‘Fitter, Fatter and Faster’.

In business terms this serves as a useful analogy for:

  • knowing and recognizing the capabilities of your business
  • making the right decisions at the right time to ensure business survival in a tough climate
  • regularly reviewing and developing strategy to ensure future success


See the full Hogan case study or see article published in Coaching at Work (vol 5 issue 1).


The Client’s said:

‘I think it worked brilliantly’

‘I truly believe the bits we did together made a difference……the work we did together certainly helped me’

‘I was absolutely thrilled with how I coped and I didn’t feel like a hindrance.’


To see more testimonials, click here.

Click here to read more Case Studies.


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