Cold Latitudes was founded in 2011 to find new ways to help organizations increase their performance. We found our focus in the extreme environment of the Arctic.
For Arctic expeditions, margins of safety are thin. Sleds are heavy. Snow is deep. Storms happen. Cold kills. Skill and spirit is all that stands between success and defeat. Low organizational engagement or weak leadership here are not just bad for business – they will literally kill you. Properly documented expeditions provide useful leadership insights:
– To excel, successful individuals and organizations perform at the edge of their capabilities in demanding business environments. The difference between success and failure is small for them as it is for polar explorers. Arctic exploration yields insights about high-performance teams.
– Risk and its management are at the heart of successful Arctic expeditions, just as they are at the heart of successful businesses. Expedition planning and risk management provide great insights to organizations that innovate and reinvent themselves and their world.
– Learning loops in cold expeditions are short, fast, and more intense. An unexpected interpersonal issue or equipment failure in an Arctic storm has to be addressed right then and there. Arctic exploration yields insights about continuous improvement and adaptation.
– Arctic expeditions manage the same paradoxes business deal with: Analysis and execution, predictability and agility, the role of failure in success, short-term goals against overall expedition goals, etc. Expeditions face stringent resource constraints and have to manage these tradeoffs very well.
– Finally, expeditions in the Arctic often rely on the Inuit, who figured out how to operate in this territory hundreds of years ago. Their challenge today is radical change in every aspect of their environment (weather, commerce, way of life, values). Their efforts to change and thrive in this fast-changing world are a fresh source of learning for organizations.
In the early stages of capitalism, sea ventures traded riches from faraway lands. They informed many insights we take for granted today, from contract law to agency theory. Arctic expeditions similarly deliver insights about leadership and engagement in high-performance cultures.
To put our insights into context, we bring a few decades of consulting experience in organizational and leadership development.