Friday, November 30, 2012

As a parent- which club would you choose?..

Time to capture the young! The apprentice- week 5: This week’s task was about inventing a new children’s club that will be fun, educational, boosting the potential within and of course, make business sense. The club will then be pitched to key investors in the business, the teams will offer them to buy their club license. Children's entertainment holds an amazingly wide range of activities and ideas anywhere from sport, to science, to arts and craft to going green. Platinum managed by Ashley, were struggling from the get go! Coming up with a concept took a very long time, Ashley simply couldn’t make a decision so while still debating between Dances from around the world and Eco art with emphasis on recycling club, they finally went out to do some market research. Strange enough, Ashley then decided to just copy the idea they witnessed at the paint club they went to! There was no convincing her to change her mind, the dancing concept did tick all the boxes required but she was having none of it. Not enough thought went into all the factors such as the horror on parents faces when they get their children back covered with paint every where, ruined cloths...The parents who are the ones paying, were not included in the research! Not to mention, there is nothing new or creative about this idea, it already exists. And so, Big mess was born! Splodge was their mascot. Odessey run by Navdeep came up with their science with a space twist concept quite quickly, they then split in to two teams and off they went to conduct their market research. They went later to a science tutor for tips and experiment ideas for the club. A fun activity was put together, they ended up calling their club Blast off! It was odd though them wanting to educate children about different areas of science and space when they didn’t even know what the planets are! They did pay attention to ticking all of Lord’s Sugar’s boxes, educational value was one of them. It was now time to create a logo, slogan, mascot and a website to go with their upcoming pitch. They had to have a live demo with children to showcase the idea. It would also help check out the children’s take on the idea, interaction and excitement level. Space face was the mascot created. There was on both teams a big emphasis on creativity and presentation and a real lack of focus on a proper business plan and pricing! Figures were just thrown into the mix with no thought later proving to coming back and biting them in the ass. Demonstration first pitch to follow...Platinum time with the children started on the slow side, some didn’t want to get so messy with the paint or get their faces painted however, once they warmed up to it they had a great time! Some sport movements with balls were incorporated in to the routine as well. The investors were very concerned about the mess, the fact that parents are not told before hand what to expect when its over- a possible 3 hours in the bath trying to get it all off not to mention, the cloths...Funny enough, money didn’t come up they did however, had to promise protective cloths to be included in the price hmm.. Odessey had a good session with the kids, they needed less encouragement to join in the fun. It was evident they were learning and enjoying themselves. The team had no real idea about pricing and when asked, couldn’t really respond well. They too promised the kit and tools needed per session to be included in the was clear they didn’t think it through. They even had spelling mistakes on their website which didn’t impress too much The board room turned out to be an annulation of... 10,950 pounds vs. 470 pounds only for Platinum! The reasons for failure were quite clear from the get go- A PM in love with her own voice, listening to no one! She thought her idea is the only idea and therefore pushed it or bulldozed it is more accurate. She completely missed the specifics of the task: New- Educational- Business sense! Their club just didn’t tick any of the boxes. It was obvious Ashley should have gone but lucky for her, poor David was in there for the forth time and Lord Sugar felt that the time has come to set him free! And then there were 7... Tune in next week for a hair raising task! Enjoy the weekend! Diti.

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Apprentice- week 5: A fresh spin on afternoon tea..

Revamping afternoon tea- This task was about organization skills and business acumen. Both teams had to create a themed afternoon tea then sell it to the tourists and visitors at the Blenheim palace in London. This week Lord Sugar appointed David to be the PM of Platinum and Alice the PM of Odessey- It was time to step up! Platinum chose for a fun and colorful theme- Mad hatter's afternoon tea. They chose for cheap quality while Odessey decided to go vintage and create a 1940’s afternoon tea. They chose to replace war ressions and shortage with high quality food and introduce some British history in the process. David did realize from the start this is about making the biggest profit so that was at the heart of his strategy. Alice was very organized through out the task: Market research, a lot of attention went to the creation of the menu- actual tasting! the ingredients, quality and props. When it came to pricing, the sub team pushed for high prices to match their research. They ended up offering their high tea for between 12 to 16 pounds, different prices for adults and children. Odessey sold their afternoon tea experience for only 7.50 pounds! David split Platinum in to two teams sending the sub team to engage in market research. Ashley teamed with David were in charge of the shopping and menu, she ended up taking complete charge and guided David when it comes to the menu, pricing and ingredients. Lucky for him too since he was not in focus and seemed happy to have someone else make the decisions...the other members also had no say in the menu. The time came to bake the cakes- sub teams were in charge of that. Alice was so very busy with Patrick tasting and spending the big bucks, they even went to high end retailor for the tea..she was not available on the phone for most of the day meaning the sub team just had to go on their instincts as far as guessing what Alice meant..the cakes didn’t look that great also for lack of real guidance. She wanted iconic British food with a you have an idea what that means? They didn’t.. Platinum stuck to their theme and made fun and colorful cakes. Odessey’s food clashed with their theme: war times matched with high end.. The time came to set up shop in the palace’s gardens. Each team got two big tents, one for the kitchen and one featuring as a dining room. Alice’s team paid attention to all the details so the tents looked great, they were ready on time, they had army uniforms to match the vibe they were after and they gave good service to the guests. Platinum on the other hand was in complete chaos! Everything took way too long, they were not ready for people so the line got longer and longer..there was no structure to the kitchen, on receiving the guests or how to take the order effectively. They even ran out of dishes at one point.. David resembled a headless chicken running around, not sure how to talk with people which was odd and the others were no help! It took a while but they finally got their act together, David had a good idea on how to tackle the lack of space problem and offered people to sit outside on the grass picnic style. The service was not very good but people attributed that actually to the mad hatter theme! Odessy had a good start but then it dried up and there was no second wave. Some people did walk away due to the high price but with spending so much, they couldn’t really afford to sell for less. At the end of the day they did drop though to half price in a desperate attempt to sell more. Board room time... David, being as lucky as he has been so far in the process and though not much in the structure and organizing department did get the point- PROFIT: Spending a total of 150 pounds and selling for 474 pounds showed a profit of 316 pounds! Alice let herself get carried away and though organized, paying attention to detail missed the most important detail- profit.. She spent a whopping 284 pounds and sold for 375 pounds showing a poor profit of 91 pounds only. Alice ended up being sent home for missing the point, showing a lack of business acumen. Maria once again was warned for her aggressiveness and pushiness especially when it came to the price. She did push for high end prices however, with the money Alice spent, she couldn’t sell for less even if she wanted to! Dropping the ball on the budget, doing no price comparison means you cant hit the mark! Can you? Tune in next week for a task all about child’s play! Enjoy the weekend!

Friday, November 16, 2012

The apprentice- At the opera!

Week 3- Creating win- win negotiations! This week’s task was about the art of negotiation. The candidates did manage to get some of the prices down however, there were no real skills involved. When the shop owners refused to give a discount, they were lost..then again, they are only 16! True, you can have business intelligence and ambitions at a young age. When examining the actual business skills at that age however, we find out that there has to be more to it then that. They need to study, personality refinement not to mention maturity and guidance through work. I would add that they need to get off the horse as we say in Israel! They may be a young successes but they don’t know it all and they are not that good, yet. It seems that when they were not sure of themselves or felt out of their depth, they just get aggressive as if this will make it invisible to the rest. This week the teams were mixed so we are no longer playing boys against girls. They were given a list of 10 items they had to find and purchase for the best possible price, bringing them to the Opera house where they will be used as props in a later production. Platinum chose Steve as their PM since he has structure and will bring order to the table hmmm...they were in for a surprised..Odessey choose Andrew. Both teams chose totally different strategies. Steve gave each member two items to research though they didn't realize this division or what their individual items were. Everyone was looking for locations to buy from for items at random. After a short while Steve thought they would be better off researching from the road so they split into two teams and off they went. Andrew thought they should stay put, find all the locations of purchase first and only then get going..Patrick was the only pointing out that since they don’t know London, they should find out on the map first where each group should go to depending on the items they were going to buy. While on the road, they did compare prices first before purchasing which sounds good basic business sense however for Platinum, it was simply get the cheapest price possible. They never thought about having a basic figure in mind to aim for. It’s not just about bringing a price down especially if its too high to begin with. Both teams in spite of their different approaches were only able to get 5 items out of the ten they were given. In the board room, Lord Sugar was not not too impressed...There were also two items the candidates didn’t even know what they were.. In spite of their huge waste of time and no one really having a proper responsibility, Odessey won the task by less then 30 pounds and a whole lot of luck.. Platinum lost mostly because they had bad management through out. The PM didn't have any indication of what was going on, he didn’t follow up with the proper questions and missed out on two basic items he had addresses for already. He chose to find new locations that didn’t work out. Amy was loud, aggressive and childish through out and that didn’t appeal to Lord Sugar, she was fired and rightly so. David broke an all time record I believe- third time in the board room and yet he was not fired! Take away: Know your prices! Bringing the price down is good but it’s not the same as getting a good price! When you manage a team, be clear about your division of the task at hand and what you expect from them. Make a clear plan to action and if you have a sub team, you need to follow up properly! Don’t ask is everything okay for example if the task is selling! Ask straight up- how much have you sold? If there are problems or changes you should make, this will the way to find out. And then there were 9! Tune in next week for the afternoon tea challenge. Have a good weekend! Diti.

Friday, November 9, 2012

You're fired!

The apprentice is back! At first I thought the search for a young apprentice will be slightly less however, it’s proving to be very interesting and quite an experience watching these kids at work. On a one hand, you can easily forget they are only 16&17 years old on the other hand, its quite sad in my view seeing them completely missing out on being teens and enjoying teen stuff. There doesn’t seem to be a balance and though I can fully relate to their passion for business, you will only be young once.. 11 youngsters are looking to kick start their business careers and are showing a burning passion for success I haven’t even seen in adults! We have two teams Odyssey- started as the boys team and Platinum originally the girls team. This week was their second task and Sir Alan mixed them up a bit to make it more interesting.. The task was about publishing: The teams had to write, design, print and produce a cookery book and then pitch their concept to the UK top 3 retailers. Did you know that this is a 84 million pounds industry?! Each year over 2,000 new cook books are published. Looking around, it seems to be the thing to do, TV and books alike. You can’t escape cooking these days that's for sure... Odyssey chose Sean as their PM- He is only 16 and yet, he is the youngest published author in the UK (what?)! He has also won an award for his writings.. What were you writing about when you were 16? Hmmm.. Platinum chose Lucy as their PM. It was now time to choose a concept&target market, Odyssey choose the professional working woman. However, when they went to test their ideas on a focus group, the group hated the idea! They all thought they should aim at a wider audience and add the professional working man to the mix. When calling in to Sean with the results suggesting the change, Maria who came up with the idea threw a fit. It's times like these when you can see the actual age of these kids...She thought they need to stand out to the retailers and a niche market is the best way to do it, forgetting that when it comes to publishing, the broader the audience the better it is. She simply didn’t stop till Sean gave in and agreed not to change their concept. Platinum choose to cater to students! They had a fun and very modern concept- combining a hash tag into the title and connecting it all with Twitter and social media. This move was very fitting with their target audience. #Where’s mummy? The students have now left home for the first time, how can they survive with out home cooking? Time to cook! The sub teams now had to come up with three recipes for their book matching the concept. Odyssey’s sub team did a good job writing it all down, proofing the material, taking great photos and matching cover. Very time efficient Platinum however, had a power struggle going on so the girls as only girls can be..decided to turn against the PM and just sabotage her wasting valuable time- They came back with a long list of ingredients and that’s it! So before creating everything needed for the final production, recipes had to be written making them almost miss their deadline! Of course that also caused them to have no time for proof reading which later proved a big embarrassment to their team. Moving on to design, once again Maria was just running the show. The reason Sean was the Pm was his knowledge of the publishing industry but he couldn’t get an idea in. What an over barring, not as smart as she thinks girl! I’m betting she will not last long..They also forgot the most important thing: incorporating into the title the words cook book.. The other team focused on the design and it came out a big success! It was much like a comic book too bad it was full of spelling mistakes though. No one at the time thought to check or even noticed these errors. Though they were aware that the person writing has dyslexia and proof reading was a must! They unfortunately ran out of time because of their hen like bickering.. The big moment has arrived, time to pitch to the retailers. Odyssey chose a good team to lead the pitch and cook the food. It was going well but for some reason Sean decided that the last pitch will be delivered by Patrick, even though he didn’t prepare well for it and didn’t know what he was doing. Note to project managers: This is business not a talent show, letting people try out different aspects of the business in search of their strengths isn’t a good strategy. Platinum did a good job pitching though no one was impressed by the amateur spelling mistakes jumping out to everyone. The board room... The results were not surprising really, Odyssey received only one order of 800 units from all 3 retailors. For the simple reason they were aiming at a very small niche market, retailers are looking for something appealing to as big a group as possible. Platinum won with an order of 7,500 units from all retailors if promising to prove read this time..:) Since Sean let Maria push him around and effect his decision making, making it a recipe for disaster combined with him ignoring the focus group completely he paid the price by getting fired. Take a way: Don’t ignore your focus group listen to what your audience is telling you! It’s not just about your ideas, they also have to hold water in the real world! Don’t fix what’s not broken- If your pitch is going well don’t change that team at the very last minute for no reason! Be assertive! And remember, you simply cant please every member of your team all the time- this is a business! And then there were 10... Tune in next week for the next task when someone will get fired! Have a great weekend!