Lessons From the Apprentice – Design a New Gadget

This weeks task on the Apprentice was to design and pitch a new household gadget.  Lord Sugar said that the success of the task would be very much down to the concept as the team who secured the most orders from two major retailers would win.

The boys led by Azhar decided to focus on an item for the kitchen while the girls an item for the bathroom.

The boys quickly came up with the concept of a table top bin that would compress food waste as you were cooking.  After making the decision, some of the boys headed out to a local retailer to pitch the concept and got some really positive feedback on their idea.

The girls were a bit slower at getting started.  They eventually settled on two ideas – one a portable bath splash screen to stop water from hitting the floor when children were being bathed and a tap cosy that would double up as a cushion to use when bathing.

Both groups split and headed off to do some market research.  Half of the girls headed for a mother and toddlers group and the remained hit the street to talk to passers by.  Feedback from the mother and toddlers group told them that the splash screen wasn’t a great product, and the tap cosy was something they would buy.  The feedback from passers by was very similar.

For the boys, they attended a focus group of chefs to pitch the bin idea as well as a new idea of taking a set of standard rubber gloves and adding a sponge and a scourer to them.  The majority thought that the gloves were a great idea and s few thought the bin wasn’t a bad idea to.

So far so good for both groups, then it all started to unravel.

One half of the girls started to doubt the idea of the tap cosy as they thought it may not be universal enough, so they set about further developing the idea of the splash screen.  The other half of the girls were still working away on ideas for the tap cosy.  It was a similar story for the boys.  While half were talking to the focus group, the others were already well into the design of the bin.

When both groups actually began talking to their counter parts, both project managers made a decision.  The girls choose to ignore their market research and go for the splash screen, and so did the boys opting for the bin.  Annoyingly for the boys, it turns out that the group that attended the initial retailer only pitched the idea of the bin and not the gloves so the research was very much one sided.

The groups briefed their designers and the prototypes were made overnight.

Come the day of the pitch, both groups made some glaring mistakes.  Azhar decided that Duane, who actually came up with the idea and it working should not do the pitch.  Jane,. the PM for the girls delegated the task of pricing and margins to one of the team without considering if this was something they could do.

First pitch for both teams was online retailer Amazon.  The girls pitched their product well, but then it fell to pieces when they offered the buyers prices for 1 million units for a product that was untested.  When challenged on smaller numbers it was clear that the numbers didn’t add up and the buyers gave them this feedback.

For the buys the pitch went well.  Although they agreed only two people would do the pitch, Duane broke rank and stepped up to answer a question.  Just as well as it was a really good answer that seemed to please the buyers.

After the first pitch, an argument broke out between the girls about the pricing.  On the way to the next itch the hurriedly changed things to make sure it was right for the next.

Next pitch was at high street retailer Lakeland.  The buys product seemed to go down well, and things were changed so Duane was this time involved in the pitch.  The girls less so as it was clear that the buyers were not keen on the product.

In the boardroom, Lord Sugars feedback was clear.  For the girls they has mis-understood the brief.  They were asked to come up with a household gadget, he thought it was more of a toy.  The girls agreed that Jane was a good project manager, but they boys though Azhar was poor a communication and there were definitely two split team at work.

In the end they boys won again this week overall securing 13,000 orders against the girls 7135900 and Maria was fired due to her perceived lack of involvement.

So this weeks lessons are:

Delegate Effectively – Ensure you pick the right person for the right job based on their skills to to a task and not just on their willingness to want to do it.  Both teams got this wrong, the girls with the finance and boys with the pitch.

Listen To Your Market Research – The people you speak to will be the people that buy a product or a service.  If you are going to ignore it, why waste the time doing it in the first place?

Communicate With Your Team – Yes as a leader you need to make decisions, but to ensure it is the right decision you should listen to the teams feedback before making that call.

Understand Your Objective – Be clear about what it is you are trying to achieve before setting out to do something.  The girls ended up with the wrong type of product.

Next week, make a new condiment.  Until then.

 

David

X
X