R&D Director a&dc
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The Apprentice Assessed: Week 3 - Half Baked Leadership?

21st Oct 2010
R&D Director a&dc
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Blog Post by Dan Hughes, Product Development Manager, A&DC

Well, it’s fair to say that neither team leader rose to the occasion in this week’s episode.  Melissa was indecisive and lacked a handle on pricing, but it was Shibby who was shown the door by Lord Sugar after taking on more business than his team could handle.

This week, the task was to produce and sell baked goods.  With experience in food distribution, Melissa, proclaiming “I am a mixed bag of nuts and this task speaks to this bag”, pushed to take on the Project Manager role (demonstrating Drive).  Given she was on the losing team last week, in which the team’s major failing was the delayed and poor product choice, she showed a lack of Learning Agility as she failed to make an early decision about what products they should produce.  In contrast, Shibby was the only volunteer to be project manager in his team, and they started brightly, coming to a shared consensus very quickly about the products they would sell.

In the business meetings, both team leaders showed questionable judgement (Intellect).  Shibby decided to give the hotel customer whatever they wanted and took on a huge order of products that they weren’t even meant to be baking.  He immediately lost the confidence of his team members back at the bakery who openly questioned his decision-making.  In his defence, he at least demonstrated some Learning Agility by deciding not to make the same mistake in his second customer visit, while Paloma merrily tried to pile up the orders even more.  However, Shibby’s manner with this customer was that of a “sulky child” (in Karren Brady’s words), demonstrating poor Emotional Intelligence.

Melissa failed to get a handle on pricing in her business meetings (Intellect), which seemed astonishing given her experience in handling food orders for commercial sales.  She kept the first customer waiting for 15 minutes while trying to sort out the numbers and then capped it off by offering them bread rolls at £1.82 each!  Fortunately Alex, with his 11 A* GCSEs (don’t forget the one in Maths), stepped in second time around to help secure an order.

On the production side, Melissa’s team were very capably organised by military man Christopher, who demonstrated excellent organisational and management skills.  He is one to watch, but has yet to show he has the strategic and commercial acumen required in a successful project manager.

Predictably, Shibby’s team comprehensively failed to deliver on their ambitious business order to the hotel.  However he at least showed some semblance of Values by offering the customer compensation, even though repeat business was not a factor in this task. 

Selling the muffins and rolls on the street seemed to be a task that many of the contestants enjoyed and Shibby seemed to be more comfortable in “the muffin zone”…  Amazingly Stuart Baggs (the Brand) even seemed to demonstrate some Learning Agility by toning down his sales style – surely he could not come back into contention?

In the end Melissa was lucky to win the task, as her leadership of the team was poor.  Her indecision was apparent yet again in the street selling, repeatedly ignoring Stella and Alex’s requests to move location when sales were poor (Intellect).  Jamie made the wise comment afterwards that “there’s only one thing she should do right now – learn”.  Melissa will certainly need to do this if she is going to stay in the competition.

As the losing team, Shibby brought Paloma and Sandeesh back into the boardroom.  Sandeesh was lucky not to be fired, as she appeared to be constantly complaining throughout the task.  She is another contestant who appears to be on thin ice with Lord Sugar.  In the end though, Shibby was rightfully sent home as he failed to demonstrate the necessary leadership skills and commercial judgement to win the task.


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