Expedition | Alpine Spectrum

Patrick Hollingworth
July 28, 2015

There’s lots of talk at the moment identifying agility as the remedy to disruption and disintermediation in this VUCA Century, but you’d be excused if you can’t quite put your finger on exactly what agility looks or feels like in a personal, business or organisational sense. That’s ok, not many can.

And so that’s essentially what I’m getting at with the Expedition Style/Alpine Style approach. It’s a metaphor!

If you’re enjoying the metaphor, please read on…

“Ok, so I’m getting the gist of this whole Expedition Style/Alpine Style approach to the VUCA World,” I hear you say. “But how do I know what my natural style is? How do I know if I’m inclined to be an Expeditioner or an Alpinist?”

Here follows a somewhat light-hearted* attempt at observing the differences between the two, with thanks to Nassim Nicolas Taleb for the inspiration from his cool book Antifragile:

* as in don’t take this too seriously


The Expeditioner vs the Alpinist

The Expeditioner is a generalist; the Alpinist is a specialist.

The Expeditioner has a fixed mindset; the Alpinist has a growth mindset.

The Expeditioner is extrinsically motivated; the Alpinist is intrinsically motivated.

The Expeditioner is risk averse; the Alpinist is comfortable with considered risk.

The Expeditioner cracks under pressure; the Alpinist grows stronger from pressure.

The Expeditioner wears what is fashionable; the Alpinist wears what is practical.

The Expeditioner lifts weights at the gym; the Alpinist does pilates outdoors.

The Expeditioner lives near the beach; the Alpinist lives near the mountains.

The Expeditioner owns a big mansion; the Alpinist rents an apartment.

The Expeditioner drives a late model SUV; the Alpinist uses Uber.

The Expeditioner watches Legends of the Fall at the cinema; the Alpinist watches True Detective on Netflix.


Now it might seem that I’m completely bagging out the slow measured-approach of Expedition Style. Definitely not. There are times when Expedition Style is the right approach. You just need to know when (more on this another time).

But seriously…

I actually have a 16 question formal diagnostic that I created to help people, their teams and their organisations work out where they currently are on the Expedition/Alpine Spectrum, and assesses how ready they are to face the challenges of the VUCA Century.

If you’re interested in completing this diagnostic, let me know

p.s. it’s free!