Wharton Nowledge, 2010

The skills and leadership exhibited by the miners will be crucial to their survival, experts say. In an interview with Universia Knowledge@Wharton, Francisco Javier Garrido, a professor of strategy in various MBA programs in Europe and the Americas and author of such management books as The Soul of Strategy, discusses the lessons that can be learned from their experience. Garrido is a partner and director of EBS Consulting Group (Spain-Chile).
Universia-Knowledge @ Wharton: In your view, what have been the keys to the miners’ survival, even when they didn’t know if the outside world presumed them to be dead?
Francisco Javier Garrido: The keys to survival in an extreme experience such as this one … can be summarized by three concepts [that] can be applied to the business world. First, there is the [background and expertise] of those who compose the group of people. [Those skills] have been vital for correctly understanding the context [the miners] find themselves in, as well as for grasping the real possibilities of being rescued. This has also been fundamental for keeping the group of people together and remaining hopeful about their chances to survive. Second, [the miners] figured out that it was vital to have [a leader] … with the longest seniority in the ranks of the workers. This was critical for keeping the people on the team together [and] for creating trust in the possibility of emerging alive … as well as [creating a system for] assigning tasks and the rationing of food.
It must be stressed that the components of experience and leadership are clear in this case. We need to point out the definition made by the head of the group, who acted as its spiritual guide. [He said] there was an upswing in what the [ancient] Greeks used to call “general wisdom.” This happens whenever the people whom we recognize as capable of [best understanding] the working environment reach the best possible decisions for the group. Those are the people who carry the mandate for the best possible future … on the battlefield or in the business world, where experienced managers play the same role.
(all the interview in the Universia-Knowledge Wharton Web)


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