Leadership and Business Lessons From the Apprentice - Rubbish

This weeks task was all about rubbish! More specifically it was about Logistics, Planning and knowing the value of time and product. The task was to collect rubbish and make a profit from it. Trying to charge more collection than it would to dump as well as looking out for a valuable product that could […]
Leadership and Business Lessons From the Apprentice - Rubbish
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This weeks task was all about rubbish! More specifically it was about Logistics, Planning and knowing the value of time and product.

The task was to collect rubbish and make a profit from it. Trying to charge more collection than it would to dump as well as looking out for a valuable product that could be sold on.

This week team Logic was lead by Helen and Venture by Zoe.

Venture was starting to go down the route of the ethical approach to selecting a leader, but Zoe pushed herself forward as she didn't want to waste time.

Venture started out by splitting in two with one group heading out to local businesses to look for rubbish.

Team Logic's strategy was to not focus on charging to collect rubbish but focus more on the valuable items that they could collect and sell on.

Two contracts were also up for grabs, one to clear a renovation site and the other to clear office furniture.

Logic's strategy was to charge nothing for the collection in the hope they could sell on the product for a profit. Venture quoted for picking up the items.

During the pitch, Venture team members were disagreeing with the strategy of charging. Instead, they were even thinking about paying the vendor to take the items away in the hope they could make money on the items. In the end, they wanted to charge the vendor. A move after which saw Logic take both of the contracts.

At the pitch, Susie from Venture was asking Project Manager Zoe lot's of questions, to the point that Zoe snapped and raised her voice to Susie.

Throughout the task, Susie raised some very valid points, but she didn't shout loud enough or pursue them and they were ignored.

After finding out who won the contracts, the teams returned to the house. In the evening Zoe broke down in front of the team to the point of crying. It took another member of the team to pick them back up and focus on doing better tomorrow. However, the team were looking to Zoe for direction here, in the main, what was the strategy for the next day. They didn't get this.

The next day came and this was all about following through on the contracts and making new appointments to collect rubbish.

Logic headed off to their first appointment. One and a half tonnes of rubbish up two flights of stairs. The job was taking much longer than they thought. This is where Melody from the team wondered if they actually should have charged, simply because of the time it was taking meaning the day was slipping away from them.

After this team Logic secured a further appointment to clear builders rubble from a job. A price was agreed for 'moving rubbish'. The team collected the first load and headed off to the tip with it. When they began to realise how much this was costing they began to wonder if they should cut their losses and leave the second load; however, it was agreed they shouldn't let the client down.

On return from the tip, the builder had added another load of bags to the original pile. The team argued that the price was to take the rubbish that was there, but the builder reminded them that the deal was for 'moving rubbish' and that they hadn't agreed on an amount. The price quoted was for 1 and a half tonnes when in fact they moved about 3.

They got to to the second contract, the office desks 15 minutes before the client was due to close.

Venture also secured 2 further appointments, one to clear a load of plumbing waste and the other a yard clearance.

They quoted for each of the jobs, one of which contained a number of copper boilers - very valuable in terms of re-sale price and these were used as part of the negotiation process. The second job also included a copper boiler and other metals.

After completing the jobs, the teams headed off to sell the valuable bits and pieces, both of them making good money on their items.

In the boardroom, it was discussed that Logic took a high-risk strategy by not focusing so much on the margin product (the removal of rubbish and dumping it) but chose to go for the valuable items. However, a strategy that paid off as they made £6 more profit than team Venture.

In the board room for Venture were Zoe, Edna and Susie. There was a lot of talk about Zoe's approach and behaviour in certain situations, but because Lord Sugar thought they wouldn't gel, Edna got fired.

So, what are the lessons from this episode?

Separate emotion from body language - As a leader, it is vitally important to be able to separate emotion from the body language you demonstrate. Having the ability to choose a façade is a must, and no matter what your feelings are toward someone or a situation, a look of professionalism, calmness and confidence is required.

On two occasions Zoe didn't do this. The first when she snapped at Susie, and the second when she broke down in front of the team. It is tough, but a leader needs to in control, even in face of adversity. The team needed direction and guidance but they didn't get it meaning the second day got off to a slow start.

Always ensure deals are clear - If you are making a deal with a potential client you need to be sure of the details or specifics of that deal. Team Logic agreed on a price for taking away rubbish when they should have agreed exactly how much rubbish they were taking away.

Not doing this can leave the deal open for interpretation and this is exactly what happened here.

Don't underestimate the value of time - The high-risk strategy that Logic took by not charging to take away rubbish in the two contracts could have hurt them. It seems like a good idea to do that and make a profit on the items, but that profit must take into account the time it takes to do the work. They were in real danger of not making the second contract because of the time it took to do the other work.

Have a clear strategy - Be sure to spend at least a little time planning. Look at work and consider the amount of time it will take and take into account the logistics. The teams quoted looking at the amount of rubbish but didn't so much take into account the time it would take to clear it.

Be Assertive and ensure your ideas are heard - If you have a valid point, you need to be assertive to get it across. This is of course different to being aggressive. Stand your ground, and make sure your points do get listened to.


Next weeks task is about putting together a magazine. A task which no doubt will need creativity and identifying a target market.

If you are interested in learning more about the above, a number of our Open Training Courses include the skills to ensure you don't make the same mistake. Take a look at our Open Training Courses page for more details.

Until next week.


David Lumley08-06-2011

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