GroupThink on Mount Everest
In 1996, eight people died during a single day in their attempt to reach the summit of Mount Everest. Not only first-time climbers, but seasoned veterans who had reached the summit before died on that day. Journalist Jon Krakauer has documented the entire story in his book, “Into Thin Air."
Several Groupthink features become clear from this fiasco. The team leaders, who were leading a commercial venture, had failed in reaching the summit with their clients in previous attempts. So there was pressure and prestige to do well by their clients this time around.
One of the elements that they had discussed was how fast the weather could change on the mountain, and because of that, they were to turn back if they had not reached a summit or landmark by a certain time.
Unfortunately, the team leaders did not heed their own warnings and advice. Here are some of the group think elements: The climbers were a tightly knit group. There was insulation from external advice. The leaders promoted their own preferred solutions, while at the same time there was a lack of clear decision-making.