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Chilean mine rescue: how ‘teaming’ saved the lives of 33 miners

Published on May 30, 2019 Originally recorded 2013   8 min
0:04
So teaming as an activity. I like to say teaming as a verb. It's teamwork on the fly. It's coordinating and collaborating across boundaries, without the luxury of stable team structures that the team effectiveness literature has told us are so helpful for good performance. Teaming is especially needed when the work is complex and unpredictable. That makes it hard to put people together into a stable team because we don't exactly know what awaits us.
0:33
This is one of my favorite recent case studies of work that was both complex and unpredictable, and yet accomplished with enormous success through teaming and team learning at the same time. Many of you may remember that in 2010 in August, there was a massive collapse in a Chilean mine in the north of Chile. This collapse, lead 33 miners to be trapped underground. At the outset of this crisis, very little was known. It wasn't clear whether the miners were still alive, and it certainly wasn't clear if they were alive, if there was any way to get them out. This was ground that was harder than granite. They were, if they had managed to make it to the small refuge that existed underground, that refuge was 2,000 feet underground, which is approximately two empire state buildings stacked on top of each other. So an enormously complex problem. Historically, there had never been a rescue that rescued that many men that deep under that harder rock. So many people were putting the odds that a successful rescue at slightly under one percent. It was just an enormously difficult challenge. Ultimately, as I suspect most of you already know, they did manage to get everybody out alive in exactly 70 days. The first 17 days were devoted to trying to figure out first whether they were alive and second, could we locate them? The remainder of the time was figuring out now that we've located them and managed to find some extra food and ability to deliver information and medicine to them, can we get them out? What I want to say about this case study, it's a remarkable success story and there's much that can be said, and much that can be written. What I want to say about it is the success occurred because of teaming at three distinct levels of analysis.
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Chilean mine rescue: how ‘teaming’ saved the lives of 33 miners

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