Stranded on Mars

Managing conflict and making decisions

Your Mars rover breaks down, your only hope of getting back to the safety of base is to walk. The group must decide which items to take with them for this perilous journey, they can only take what they can carry and the more they carry the quicker they will use up their oxygen supply. The shortest route back to base is over most difficult and dangerous terrain and would involve carrying heavy specialist climbing equipment. Some argue for taking the longer route and carrying nothing. Others say it would be suicidal  not to take the spare oxygen tanks despite their weight, several members of the group say a trek of this distance requires water and food. The longer they debate what to do the less oxygen they have. They must decide what to do without resorting to a vote. 

There are several groups undertaking this exercises under the impression that they are competing to be the first to get back to the safety of base.  There is no right answer the aim of the exercise is to get people to think about conflict and how it can be resolved. When this exercise is undertaken with managers it is surprising how many groups resort to challenging the parameters of the exercise when they find themselves unable to agree. Alternatively an individual claims superior knowledge either of moon survival training or having previously participated in a similar group exercise and so the group goes along with their "bogus expertise". 


What comes across is that people who are successful in gaining management posts are very task focused and competitive which can make them blind to the effect their behaviour has on others. Which will come as no surprise to those they manage. 


Blair McPherson former LA director, author and blogger 

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