Scott 100 Day 27 27th November : Orders

William Lashley. Lashley was another navy man who served with Scott on the Discovery expedition and on this trip was one of the men who had set off with the tractor team led by Teddy Evans. He did not get chosen for the team going for the pole but his heroics on the return march when he stayed with Teddy Evans, saving his life, while Tom Crean went for help would earn him the Albert Medal. He retired after the Terra Nova trip but was recalled to service during the First World War where he served on HMS Irresistible which was sunk in action. He survived that action and died in 1940.

Scotts Journal November 27th 1911. Scott describes progress this day as ‘the most trying march we have had’. The front teams struggled and the regular procession kept catching each other up disrupting the marching pace. The second half of the march was even worse. The forward teams couldn’t locate markers and struggled with direction. The snow fell heavy and it was impossible for ski and difficult to pull, a south wind began and helped push the party along. The conditions were difficult at the end of the march and the animals were very tired. The 3 or 4 inches that the men sink into each step is met with a solid surface and while it is tiring it is uniform for the horses. The supplies of forage means they must continue to make 13 miles a day, whatever the condition, if the horses are to make it. Scott notes that a ‘tired animal makes a tired man’ and that ‘none of us are bright now after that days march’.

Commentary. When Hooper and Day headed north they took with them orders from Scott back to Cape Evans. He said that the horses were going well and should make it through but to ensure they did the dogs would come further than first planned. Scott goes on to say that this may mean they are unfit for any further work this summer and that manhauling teams should be sent out to replenish the stores at One Ton Depot.  Fiennes refers to this order as an indication that Scott could be flexible and change his orders and plans as the circumstances altered. Lack of flexibility and imagination form part of the leadership criticism of Scott. Its clear Scott could change his plan if required, what I would like to know more about is how flexible the team believed they were when not in possession of a direct order ? Teddy Evans would struggle back to Cape Evans with orders concerning help for the polar party, these would not make it back and the help that was undertaken could be argued to be constrained by Scott’s authority, even when he was not present. The leader sets the task, the what, but they should be somewhat removed from the how. Communicate the goal, aim or intent and where possible leave the how to the team. What if Simpsons orders back at Cape Evans would have been, ‘replenish One Ton Depot in order to support returning party’ and ‘ensure dogs are cared for in order to undertake further work next summer’. This is clearly a modern imprint of our understanding of leadership and the culture in which Scott finds himself immersed in is as alien to us and our society would be to him.

About hutpoint

Interested in leadership, teamwork, resistance, perseverence and change. A former senior nurse dedicated to learning from and sharing with other flawed humans.
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