The Apprentice Week 8 – Functional or Dysfunctional?

The Apprentice Week 8 – Functional or Dysfunctional?

courtesy of BBC

courtesy of BBC

What next for The Apprentice? After last week’s double firing and the ongoing personality clashes, the candidates in this year’s programme are certainly standing out, but not necessarily for the right reasons.

This week, it was a case of functional versus dysfunctional.This was in relation not only to the contrasting team dynamics, but also to the website of winning PM Jordan. The opposite team, led by Jason was the epitome of dysfunctional, with 4 individuals all pulling in different directions. Not only did they lost the task, but along the way they lost a PM.

Jordan led a team with clear focus, direction and teamwork, giving a master class in project management and leading form the back through effective delegation. Or as Sugar seemed to categorise it, hiding at the back. The main criticism of their dating website was that it was too corporate and at odds with the rest of the campaign and the light hearted advertisement. This could have been an issue, but in the end Jordan came out as competent if not exciting.

Jason volunteered for the unenviable task of leading the strong personalities of Neil, Francesca and Luisa. He championed the idea of a dating site for over 50s, but wanted it to have the energy of a site for over 30s. The over 50s idea was received with lukewarm enthusiasm by the team, principally due to the fact that they had little knowledge of the market.

Mistake number one by Jason was to pair himself with Luisa. She has proved to be a real snake in the grass, with a massive ego and no scruples. While they worked on  argued over the logo, Neil and Francesca set off to do some market research.

Mistake number two was allowing the research to be done with a blank piece of paper and to a small number of people. Jason had a clear vision, and this should have been tested by offering choices, not asking for general opinions. This reflected the lack of comfort with the idea by the sub team. This led to a conflict between the vision that Jason had and what the poor research suggested the customer wanted. At this point, Jason, seemed to lose interest in the project and stopped fighting his corner.

Mistake number 3 was in Jason’s leadership at this point. He effectively wrote a suicide note when he stepped down as PM due to Luisa’s constant sniping. His time management didn’t help, and brought out the worst in Luisa’s Driving Social Style. I’m convinced this was because the project was going in a direction his heart told him was wrong. He needed to be stronger and stick to his idea. In the end he put the team first, which is praise worthy, but looks weak to Sugar who would never do this. Luisa gets her wish to lead the team, and Jason slips back into the role he is most comfortable with – team player.

The rest of the task proceeds without too much incident, though the pitch from Luisa was a mistake and Neil would have been better based on past experience.

In the boardroom, it is revealed that  the Jason / Luisa experiment  didn’t work and they lose the task.

Mistake number 4 was Jason bringing Francesca instead of Neil. Neil would probably have supported Jason to get rid of Luisa, who he may see as more of a rival in the long term. In the end, the girls gang up on Jason, and although neither comes out well, especially Luisa, who is now in the last chance saloon, it is Jason who is, with regret, fired.

The question is not so much was it right that Jason was fired, but rather whether he should ever have been in the programme. I think Jason allows corporate life to hold a mirror up to itself. The contrast between his thoroughly decent behaviour and that of the more obvious, selfish candidates allows us to decide whether we would want to work in corporate life.

For me, it reinforces my decision to go it alone and set up my own business.