The School of Exploration vs. the School of Management


For some time I had been wondering about and researching whether there was ever a training school for would-be Explorers.

I first encountered this possibility in my reading of The Lost City of Z, the true 1920s account of a legendary British explorer who ventures into the Amazon in search of, you guessed it, a lost civilization. (Rumor has it this fascinating book is currently in movie production starring Benedict Cumberbatch.)

The author of Z writes about diplomas having been offered in Exploration. Diplomas in Exploration! I was excited, intrigued, and there was only one place to go for more answers. So a few weeks ago I hopped a plane to visit the Royal Geographical Society Archives in London.

There I found notes and minutes dating back to 1879 outlining a plan to offer a course for potential Explorers. The course was sanctioned by the Secretary of the Society, Mr. Clements Markom to be taught by the map curator, Mr. John Coles. The fee for the class was two shillings, 6D. In the first year, thirteen students, known as “travelers,” participated.

Over time the course expanded, and at one point there were 45 students. The Royal Geographic Society made the decision to offer diplomas for the class.

Initially the subjects taught included geology, botany, anthropological measurement, photography and instruction on geographic field observation. The course, as taught by E. A. Reeves and outlined later in 1922, was very focused on practical astronomy, surveying, map projections and cartography. Several different teachers taught the study courses up until the 1930s.

The surprise for me in reviewing the curriculum was not only what was covered, but also what wasn’t. There was nothing in the class about the process of Exploration. The course was a how-to on the tools of Exploration and included guidance on how to report on Expeditions. There was nothing that pertained to the thinking process behind it all.

I was puzzled, but not entirely surprised. My sense is that one’s ability to explore has always been seen to be intuitive. It grows out of curiosity and the wonder in the mind of the Explorer purchase cialis online. Perhaps the skill was taken for granted by those who could do it. I believe there is indeed a process for Exploration, but it was never written down because people just did it.

Today when I talk to people who are Explorers and they describe what they do, it sounds very personal, very intuitive. They say they just kind of figured it out. They don’t have a vocabulary for it, and there appears to not be a process behind it. They think it’s something they do uniquely. And this is one of the fundamental differences between management and Exploration.

Management has been popularly defined, and it has a versatile vocabulary. The building blocks have been identified and generally accepted. The boxes have become defined boxes. Management embraces the “known.” That is the nature of management. The goal in management is to replicate and to bring to scale.

By contrast, the Exploration process is often perceived to be intuitive, both by those who do it and those who observe it. It is perceived to be individualistic, held in the domain of the eccentric scientist or the wild-eyed traveler. It is understood, often incorrectly, to be merely emotional and without logic and process. Consequently the process is not sufficiently considered because it appears on the surface as merely a burst of individual creativity. Exploration embraces the “unknown” using it as the driver for what could be.

The Exploration Group has found that there is a process of Exploration. It is a defined process and it is possible to quantify. Not quantified in the sense that everyone can become an Explorer, but quantified in that the process is recognized and can benefit all organizations and their people when its principles are understood.

Perhaps the time is coming for the School of Exploration to square up against the School of Management. Like Army vs. Navy or Michigan State vs. Michigan, let’s face off, dig in and game on.

But first, get your diploma.


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