Summary of Destructive Goal Pursuit

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Destructive Goal Pursuit book summary


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You can see the summit; it’s right there, a lifelong goal. Unfortunately, you’re out of oxygen, it’s getting dark and a storm is brewing. Setting goals and doggedly pursuing them is a corporate religion, so it seems blasphemous to assert that focusing on goals can be fatal. However, the 1996 Everest disaster shows that sticking to stubborn, simple goals in complicated, shifting environments can lead to fiasco. D. Christopher Kayes evaluates the dynamics of teams and leaders in crisis, as illustrated by this tragedy, where climbers died trying to reach the summit who might have survived if they hadn’t single-mindedly pursued that goal. getAbstract recommends Kayes’ compellingly written study to those who wish to understand leadership’s vulnerabilities, and goal setting’s potential to cause unforeseen and dire results. To ensure that your goals lead to success, build resilient teams that can learn on the edge of the cliff.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How stubborn goal pursuit led to the disaster on Mount Everest in 1996;
  • What symptoms indicate “goalodicy,” goal pursuit that leads to failure; and
  • How to build a resilient team that responds flexibly and intelligently to change.

About the Author

In 1996, D. Christopher Kayes, a hiker, traveled to the base of Mount Everest in the wake of the climbing disaster. He has written several influential papers on the psychology of leadership and teaches organizational behavior at George Washington University.



Striving for the Highest Summit
In early May 1996, several climbing teams set out for Everest, including one led by American Scott Fischer, a team led by the New Zealander Rob Hall and a Taiwanese team. Fischer and Hall established absolute authority over their teams. Hall exuded confidence...

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