The Apprentice Episode 9: Creativity, Felipe and Skeletongate

Published on 4 December 2014 at 1:16 pm #communicationskills #creativestrategicthinking #influencingskills #management #projectmanagement #teambuilding

I'm not going to talk about whether I agree with Lord Sugar's style of doing business; I'm saving that till the end of the series.

Today's blog is on creativity and team working.

Needless to say, 'Skeltongate' is trending on Twitter with most opinions leaning towards Felipe and his decision to buy a paper skeleton for last night's task. Lord Sugar was certainly scathing in the Boardroom, "Are you taking the piss?"

So for me the question isn't whether it was the right move to fire Felipe; rather how do you define 'thinking outside the box'. And of course, the paradox in asking the question is there can't be a definitive answer because that then just makes another box.

So again, I say, this blog is about creativity and innovative thinking.

What I loved about Team Tenacity before they began eviscerating each other in the Boardroom, was how joyful they were at completing the task on time and with a belief that the paper skeleton would pass muster.

Felipe's teammates may have played turncoat in the Boardroom, but all of them thought they might just get away with it.

So was Felipe being creative in sourcing and buying a paper skeleton?

You bet!

At Impact Factory we have a few 'rules' about creativity and innovation, which is all about breaking rules. Here are a few from our list:

Chance your arm

Take risks

Break some rules

Upset the status quo

Have fun

Be unconventional

Use ingenuity

Felipe did all of that and was then punished for it, which of course is what can happen when you take risks - they sometimes fail. I may not have thought his ingenuity was a failure but Lord Sugar certainly did.

This has been the best programme of the series so far for a number of reasons. The scavenger hunt for all those disparate goodies was right out of childhood and was great fun to watch how each team coped with the task.

It was great to see Felipe and Daniel park their least for a little while...till Daniel reverted to type in the Boardroom.

And finally, it has created proper controversy and debate about Felipe getting fired. This is one of the points of good telly - getting people talking about what they saw, arguing about whether it should have happened or not, was Felipe being punished for being too nice a guy.

And for me, I go back to creativity. In our opinion, a good business has to have a bedrock of creativity and innovation to succeed. There's a lot of talk about disruptive creativity which is indeed about challenging the status quo.

It would have been an entirely different programme if Lord Sugar had overcome his knee jerk reaction and said something along the lines of, "Are you taking the piss? Well, you know what? Good for you! You chanced your arm, you took a risk, you failed, you admitted your mistake, I'm giving you another chance."

And fired Daniel.

Which brings me to my second point: team working.

Team Summit was so sure they'd lost that they were't so much 'at' each other as resigned to defeat, so they lobbed a couple of slightly barbed softballs in Sanjay's direction, but nothing too vicious. Their shock at winning (Sanjay certainly must have seen the writing on the wall and then got his reprieve from the Gov'nor) was a delight to see.

Team Tenacity, on the other hand, started off full of praise for each other and for Daniel's Project Management....until they realised they had lost, and then the knives were out. In an instant they went from lovey-dovey to snarling dogs. Aside from Felipe who remained a gentleman throughout.

Many many years ago in the early days of my career, I had a boss who made a whopper of a mistake.

We on the team were pretty gutted and upset. He was raked across the coals and despite how we felt, we stood by him because we were all part of the team that supported his decision. The organisation we worked for ended up praising us for being good team members so that the integrity of the team was maintained and we could carry on without a betrayal sitting like a lump in the middle of the office.

We weren't covering up his incompetence; we were behaving like a solid team so that we could then unpick what happened and move on. Daggers pointed at each other draws blood and rarely resolves anything or makes room to resolve anything.

A far better and more mature behaviour in the Boardroom would have been for the whole team to admit culpability and take joint responsibility and then really given Lord Sugar a run for his money in making his decision.

In the opening of each show you hear Lord Sugar saying, "It's a dog eat dog world out there" and that's how the teams tend to behave: throw a colleague to the eating dogs in Oder to save your own skin.

I know who I'd rather do business with. Felipe's sacking is Lord Sugar's loss, and ours, since we will be bereft of Felipe'isms for the rest of the series.

Check out our courses on Creativity and Innovation, Team Building and Communication Skills

By Jo Ellen Grzyb, Director, Impact Factory