Leadership Lessons from the Race to the South Pole
Why Amundsen Lived and Scott Died
by Fergus O'Connell
March 2015, 163pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-3500-1
$41, £31, 35€, A59
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-3501-8
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

What strategies for modern project management can be extrapolated from the adventures of two explorers more than a century ago?

A project management expert identifies methods for running any project successfully based on lessons learned from the exploits of two storied explorers.

What could be more intriguing than a management book built around a gripping story of exploration? The 1911–12 race between British explorer Robert Scott and Norwegian Roald Amundsen to be first to the South Pole provides the rarest of case studies. Two teams carry out the same project. One is spectacularly successful; the other fails miserably. Just about everything about good—and bad—planning, management expert Fergus O’Connell maintains, can be learned from these leaders.

The results of poor planning are not always as dire as they were for Scott. But in business, poor planning can have serious consequences, often because the same mistakes are repeated. Starting with an introduction that details their exploits, the book goes on to use Scott and Amundsen as examples of good and not-so-good leadership. It contrasts the difference in how the two men planned and executed their projects and how they led their teams, highlighting things that must be in place for success. What can happen when those things are ignored is also spelled out. Readers will come away from this book entertained and with a in-depth understanding of a new method for assessing the health of any project—and running it successfully.


  • Analyzes a familiar story from a unique point of view, using the endeavors of Roald Amundsen and Robert Scott to illustrate project management concepts
  • Offers a practical guide to running any project successfully
  • Motivates and encourages behavior change by demonstrating how a little planning beats a lot of firefighting
  • Shows that we can learn as much from others' failures as we can from their successes
  • Emphasizes the importance of taking the time to plan, even when operating in crisis mode
Fergus O'Connell holds a first-class honours degree in mathematical physics from University College Cork, Ireland, and is one of the world's leading authorities on project management. His company—ETP (Ireland) Ltd., a firm that specializes in project management for knowledge and high-tech industries—and his "The Ten Steps" project management method have influenced a generation of project managers. O'Connell is the author of 13 business books, including Stuff I Wish I'd Known When I Started Working, The Power of Doing Less, and What You Need to Know about Project Management.
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