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Lessons from The Apprentice, week 10
How to avoid getting fired
Health food was the name of the game in week 10, and naturally neither team wanted to maca meal of it. With the final result zero sales apiece, both teams managed to lose the task – an Apprentice first, and this week's turnip for the books. The boardroom intensity brought Charleine to tears (with Gary seemingly not far behind) but it was Brett who was shown the door, assured by Lord Sugar that he left ‘as an honourable man'. What can we learn from this task? Lettuce find out.
How to not get fired
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Lesson #1: Leaders lead
"Although Brett is project manager, he's actually third in line to the throne"
Good managers give their teams room to grow and let talented individuals shine – often brighter than they do. But they facilitate that growth and they lead their team. Brett never really had a handle on the task, with ‘King Richard' running the show (as he so often does) and Vana taking control of the kitchen. Leading your team into a loss is one thing, but losing and failing to lead is another.
Leaders also need to lead by example. And when the current showing leaves a lot to be desired, it's helpful at least to be able to refer to past successes. When called upon in the final four, Brett's defence of himself stood out for its lack of specifics in this regard. Charleine recalled her performance through pain in the discount store task, Gary reminded the room he'd never previously been blamed for a task's failure, and Richard pointed to two stand-out performances as project manager. When challenged by Karen to quantify the claim he ‘contributed massively', Brett was unable to speak of anything as specific from the past ten weeks, and this didn't inspire confidence.
Key take-away: strong leaders lead by example, and let individuals shine by bringing teams along together
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Lesson #2: Communication is key
"…which gives us the calibration of the ratios to the amounts…"
At the start of Brett's ‘woeful' pitch he stated his desire not to participate in any misrepresentation. While the intention was honourable, a whole host of miscommunications throughout the task – between team members, on the packaging, and in the pitches – meant they weren't really representing anything coherently.
With a 3 vs 3 task bringing about such small sub-teams, effective communication between the kitchen and marketing HQ was vital. Yet the USPs of Brett's product never made it onto the packaging. That the crisps were dehydrated was communicated too late and Richard chose to leave off the fact that they were raw. The end result was a product that didn't communicate its benefits to the consumer. These benefits then certainly weren't communicated any better to the retailers, pitched in what Claude called ‘gibberish' by Brett (although admittedly ‘iconic vegetables' was an improvement on ‘vegan-proof').
Key take-away: effective communication is vital – with your team, with suppliers and distributors, and with your customer
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Lesson #3: Know where you stand
"Just put ‘vegan' instead of ‘high in nutrients'… for now"
Richard's ‘for now' was a precursor to removing the word ‘raw' from the packaging, an instrumental mistake at which Lord Sugar pointed a very deliberate finger in the boardroom. Continuing to stand by Richard in spite of this was Brett's fatal flaw. While it is of course admirable to defend those working for you, the fact that Brett maintained his verdict of Richard's good performance and didn't highlight that oversight showed his failure to grasp the main reason for the team's loss.
Although the oiliness of the product was clearly an issue, it was one that could be rectified in future production; poor communication on the packaging, on the other hand, indicated a more damning lack of understanding on the part of those presenting it. Brett didn't know where he stood with the product – its benefits and the communication thereof – and he stood by the wrong person in the boardroom. Ultimately it was for these reasons his time came to an end.
Key take-away: understand your position in the market and know your product's strengths; stand by the good but don't be afraid to challenge the bad
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It's not all bad…
As Lord Sugar said, Brett remained ‘honourable' throughout the process. His values – of sticking to specification, of honesty with the customer, and of not badmouthing those around him – stayed true, and he managed to maintain them for an impressive total of ten tasks. To have lasted this far justly shows him to be more of a winner than a loser, and he was gracious and appreciative in defeat.
Did Brett deserve to be fired in last night's #TheApprentice?— REED (@reedglobal) December 10, 2015