Friday, November 13, 2009
Mann Gulch Fire
Sad news today of death of 98 year old Earl Cooley, airborne supervisor at tragic Mann Gulch forest fire of 1949. 12 smokejumpers died at that fire. Norman Maclean wrote an amazing book about that event: Young Men and Fire (1992). I wrote a Harvard case study about the fire to teach important lessons about decision making and team dynamics. I also wrote about the fire in my first book: Why Great Leaders Don't Take Yes For an Answer. The fire has so many leadership lessons. Michael Useem of Wharton also has documented some key lessons from this case. Wag Dodge led that crew that day in 1949, and while he may have exhibited sone leadership flaws, his survival is an interesting and amazing story of the power of intuition.