In 1903 Roald Amundsen set out to find the fabled Northwest Passage, an artic route between the Atlantic and Pacific. Many before him had failed: Admunsen‘s chances didn’t look good.
Crucially an analysis of 92 expeditions by Jonathan Karpoff of the University of Washington determined that the best predictor of an expedition’s outcome was how it was funded and managed.
We believe there is a direct analogy to our industry and the success of projects.
Big expeditions cost more, lost more men and ships and made fewer discoveries. Leaders were often selected because they were politically connected, rather than competent and efficient.
Successful privately funded expeditions were characterised by:
- Being smaller and more nimble.
- Hand-picked crews in a flat organisational structure.
- Everyone had a clear role and a direct stake in the mission success.
- Utilising local resources, using only what was needed at the appropriate time.
- Impartial, focused leadership.
- Recognition that having the right people are the key to success and communications are quicker and more effective.
From our experience, there are significant lessons to be learnt with financial services and the projects we’ve been involved with:
- Clearly defined goals, leadership and responsibility.
- Small number of people.
- Relentlessly focussed on the outcome.
- Unencumbered and not distracted by peripheral ‘corporate noise’.
- Short lines of communication.
- Regular milestones on the road to success.