On track but not as planned. At the bottom of the Beardmore Scott is on track. Rations, time and distance to cover are all within the boundaries of the original plan. Fiennes believes that the plan and the men are in a good place. Yet to keep the plan on track they have made other changes which may now impact greatly on the next few weeks. A significant change was of course the decision last summer to save the horses by not putting One Ton Depot as far south as they wished, but other smaller events may now be coming together to eventually influence the outcome of this expedition. The dogs had gone out further with Scott than intended and Atkinson had also used them to rescue Teddy Evans. Also, the Terra Nova could not make it close to the shore to resupply the expedition and so stores were unloaded by manhauling across the ice, the men manhauling had already done a great deal of hard physical work and Cherry-Garrard believes it was a mistake to use them for this task, they could have headed south with supplies. Fiennes also points out that Atkinson, who was in charge, was planning to head back south on February the 2oth to help Scott. Instead he was now saving Teddy Evans and once back at the camp he was required to undertake his other role as doctor. The trip south would need to wait.
Scott’s Journal 20th February 1912. They arrive back at the point on the Barrier where they had undergone the four day blizzard. They looked for extra supplies and horsemeat but could find none. Only 7 miles made and that makes two days of poor miles, the required averages are not being met. Scott concludes his entry. ‘it is distressing, but as usual trials are forgotten when we camp, and good food is our lot. Pray God we get better travelling as we are not fit as we were, and the season is advancing apace.
Commentary. This point of the expedition is fascinating, is it successful or a failing ? Scott is in the right place and with the right supplies according to the plan. But to achieve this element of the grand plan several smaller sacrifices to the mission had been made. One Ton is too far North, the tractors failed early, the horses struggled, the blizzard lost them days, the dogs came further with Scott than intended and were needed to rescue Teddy Evans, Terra Nova couldn’t land close to shore, the weather was at its worse extreme, time was given to exploration and failure to be first at the pole would have damaged spirit. There seems to be dozens more smaller moments and rather than any one element being the reason for Scotts failure it is more likely to have been a combination of all. Anyone of those issues could possibly have been survivable, maybe even two, three or more, but all together they were too many small deviations from the plan for it to be successful. How many changes, adaptations and deviations can be accommodated and still bring success ? The leader needs to have entrusted a good understanding within the team of how each element is connected and impacts on others, they also need to know which parts can be negotiated or given up and which are lines in the sand, not to be crossed. The leader also needs to understand they cannot control everything that happens but what they can do is respond correctly to everything that happens. The real difficulty for the leader comes when the line in the sand in reached but only they are aware. A failure to share, engage and communicate will result in a leader being seen to be over reacting to an issue no one else knew was important.