D'Arcy from Winnipeg
Solution Architecture, Business & Entrepreneurship, Microsoft, and Adoption

Useful Lessons from The Apprentice: Involve The Client

Friday, September 17, 2010 12:52 AM

Tonight kicked off the new season of The Apprentice: the TV show where Donald Trump parades a bunch of business-types through a series of tasks, fires the failures, and at the end hires the lucky schmuck that survived the whole ordeal. All with us watching the drama unfold!

This season we see Trump bring in people affected by the recent recession. They’ve lost their jobs, lost their businesses, sold their houses, had their marriages destroyed, etc.

Unfortunately we see their first task as being more akin to a home designing show on TLC than a business task: each is given a location that they have to convert into a working space. What’s a working space? I have no clue…I thought it meant like a co-op work space, but maybe it was just work space for some businesses that needed a furnished office? Wasn’t really clear. Anyway, Trump himself would be the judge on this task, and the teams set off to work.

Both teams were given a designer and otherwise came up with their own plans and ideas, executed on them, bought furnishings, painted walls, put up accents, blah blah blah. At this point there’s very little business-insight value in watching this whole experiment. Time is up, and Trump visits both locations to review the work. Later both teams convene in the boardroom and await Trump’s ruling on the winning team. He comes out and drops the bombshell:

“I didn’t really like either of them.”

If anyone was looking for ONE bit of insight from this two hour premiere, it was this:

Rule #1 – Do Involve The Client In The Design Of The Concept

In other tasks from previous seasons, the teams would have time to sit with whoever the judges were to get their thoughts, expectations, and insight. Nobody from the current season’s teams attempted to meet with Donald to find out what he considers to be “good”, what things he likes, what things he hates. They both designed totally removed from the client.

This happens all the time in business: the people that should be involved in developing a solution concept are never consulted, and failure is typically the result. It’s imperative to get that involvement as early as possible in the process.

I’m hoping we get better tasks in the weeks to come, but since we’re going to see the “Who can sell the most ice cream” task next week, I’m not holding my breath.


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