Scott 100 Day 115 25th February 1912 : Better Instructions

Better Instructions. There was not the planned depots of dog food on the barrier and so any help offered to the returning polar party needed to be planned with these, and other, limitations in mind. In the 25th February Cherry-Garrard and Dimitri set off with the dogs for One Ton Depot. So many varying factors and unclear meanings had contributed to getting to this point but Atkinson gave Cherry- Garrard these verbal orders. 1) To take 24 days food for the two men and 21 days food for the two dog teams, together with the food for the polar party. 2) To travel to One Ton Depot as fast as possible and leave the food there. 3) If Scott had not arrived at One Ton Depot before me I was to judge what to do. 4) That Scott was not in any way dependent on the dogs for his return 5) That Scott had given particular instructions that the dogs were not to be risked in view of the sledging plans for next season. Cherry-Garrard commented, ‘I do not believe that better instructions could have been given than these of Atkinson’.

Scott’s Journal 25th February 1912. Lowest temperature was -20 today. The hard pulling had not improved overnight although it became a little easier. They are on track and can see the walls of an outgoing camp ahead. They are on ski and Scott is critical of the technique, ‘ Bowers hasn’t quite the trick and is a little hurt at my criticisms, but I never doubted his heart’. They made better progress as the day went on and completed 11 miles for the day, the first time they had made double figures for a few days.

Commentary. The instructions Cherry-Garrard has from Atkinson are helpful but even with all the unforeseen circumstances his statement that these are the best instructions possible needs consideration. There is some clarity in the instructions concerning resources, supplies, men, dogs, time and destination. There is also some attempt to try and identify the leaders intent, dogs are not required to make it safe home and that they should not be risked because of other priorities. Leaders should offer as much clarity as is possible and share their intent whenever the opportunity arises. Doing these two things allows other to truly be empowered. Most empowerment is in fact delegation because clarity and intent are not maximised. Instruction 3 empowers Cherry-Garrard but only in terms of the effectiveness of the clarity and intent around the other instructions and the expedition as a whole. The way to develop both clarity and intent is to ask better questions. Most teams and organisations are good as moving facts and instructions up and down its structure but great teams, that allow the leader to make the best possible decisions move powerful and meaningful questions. Had Scott maximised this element of leadership within the team ?

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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