Simplicity Over Complicated
As I get more and more older, I convince myself more and more, that all the problems we face in the world is a result of ‘failed / bad communication’.
Last Wednesday – my notion was given further strength when I witnessed two teams battle it out to win a ‘simple’ task. In life, somewhere and somehow we all go through an experience where we ‘over complicate’ simple tasks. We learn, as we get older that a simple approach to a simple task is the better way forward – less time consuming and less complicated but with the same outcome.
So What Happened: For those of you who watched The Apprentice 2012 Episode One – I won’t bore you any further with the details of what went on. For those who didn’t watch it or have yet to watch it – don’t worry there are no spoilers here and, if you are still wanting to watch it then I recommend BBC iPlayer (you have 7 days).
Over the years, I have seen Lord Alan Sugar explain his tasks to the apprentices. I admire his approach in explaining the tasks in less than 20 words. This first task was probably the simplest I’ve ever seen on The Apprentice. If I owned a business where I had a sales team – I would force my sales team at gunpoint to watch this episode for ‘how not to do business’.
The opening moments of this first episode showed the future of British commerce, I had to grit my teeth while I watched self-promotions of these individuals. I wrote a little about this few days ago and it’s worth the effort to mention this again as some had described themselves amongst other descriptions – ‘A master puppeteer pulling the strings’, ‘A shark and total reflection of perfection’, ‘Like an animal I will roar my way to the top’, and ‘A blonde assassin’ delivered with total focus without batting an eyelid
My first impressions of some of the apprentices when they first entered the boardroom, at the beginning of the tasks, was the group consisted of loatheables apprentices with the usual delusional declarations of egotistical self priced – despicable characters. Some were full of attitude and some were already raising their left eyebrows with a smirk as Lord Alan Sugar spoke at them.
So after regaining my consciousness after week one episode, I have compiled below ‘lessons learnt’ and where applicable tried to explain – how things should have been done.
Understand the Task: Often people fail at the first hurdle and one factor to this failure is not understanding the task. Understanding the Task means knowing what to do.
The Apprentice was no exception. The task was simple and required a simple thought out process. There was nothing complicated about it and neither did it need any debate. I think both teams understood the task but the Boy’s team now called Phenix had the upper hand, as they felt confident from the start – and I guess they knew how simple the task was.
Do your Research: In any market, be it business or your own profession – doing research is vital. Most people fail to recognise how important ‘research’ is. It prepares you to understand the future and more importantly prepares you to make those smart moves to keep you ahead of the game.
None of the apprentices made any effort to find out the market trend, potential explosive idea or even which area was strong to sell at.
Identify Individual Skills Set: Knowing what the strengths and weaknesses are can make all the difference in achieving the end result. This is more important to figure out in a group especially since you will be relying on those people to win you the task.
Both teams failed abysmally in my view to identify who will be good at what. If you are going to be working together in the future, it’s very important to understand the skill sets of individuals. Knowing who is good at what can potentially be a winning strategy going forward in this series.
Have a Strategy: Having the right strategy makes all the difference in seeing where you are and how you intend to get where you want to be. Think of it as a roadmap from A to B.
The Boy’s team seemed to have a good hold in this space. It was clear in their mind – how much to spend on stock, what end product to produce and once you have a product, depending on its uniqueness what price should it be sold at.
On the other side, the Girl’s team, now known as ‘Sterling’ were terrible in getting organised, let alone defining a strategy. They may have chosen a Project Manager who was in this trade already – and in theory should have already known exactly what to do, how to do it and when to do it – but the Project Manager lost her ability to get organised or set a long term strategy which should have made all the difference.
Identify a Unique Idea or Product: The product to sell and to whom is one of the most fundamental aspects of business. Although it’s not the only thing which can win you the task, and as the Girl’s team proved so successfully that despite having a good product, if you don’t manage everything else correctly – you can still loose.
With so many ‘so called’ bright people on both teams, identifying a unique idea and producing a unique product should have been a walk in the park. The unique product or idea sells itself, and both team failed to recognise this.
In the interest of keeping this post short, I’d like to sum up the remain points – as due to the amount of failures in the this task, I can go on and on.
In addition to the above, it’s equally important to ‘get your product right’, without which you can’t do justice to the good idea. The other aspect which I think the Boy’s team succeeded in doing was to ‘delegate effectively’, this in the end proved to make all the difference between both teams. The final point is to have ‘confidence to make decisions’, and again the Girl’s team Project Manager Gabrielle Omar clearly lost her confidence in making decision, especially when up against strong personalities constantly having a stab at you and your plan.
In the end, the Bulgarian block of flats came tumbling down: Bilyana Apostolova who works as a trainee Wealth Manager in the UK didn’t last long, and as I witnessed Bilyana beg for a second chance, despite my gut feeling that the blonde assassin was on the verge of being fired I think Lord Alan Sugar changed his mind in the last second to raise his finger at Bilyana.
The following video are a tribute to Bilyana Apostolova:
..and to see some funny highlights of this episode, check out an edited version below: