• 25 Nov 2016

    Apprentice: A Washout made worse by the Dearth of a Salesperson

    Have I been watching the Apprentice? Yes but I am not exactly enthused. In reality I think this year’s lot are the poorest crop of potential partners for Sugar's cash rush ever. Earlier episodes saw the teams being creative as they promenaded hopefully down Brighton front: Guiltees and 'Suck it and Sea.' great names. This is when we saw super confident Sofiane's sales technique of relentless pressing...
    • 2 Sep 2016

    Is tax really just for the little people who work?

    Leona Helmsley a mega rich new New York property developer is reported to have said after her arrest for tax fraud “we don’t pay taxes only the little people pay taxes.” She was known as known as “The Queen of mean.” Sad...
    • 15 Jan 2016

    Scotland the Blog: The double deluge on the Don and Dee means time for a granite renewal

    I spoke with our network in The North east and Islands this week. The area has been hit recently by two deluges. The most pressing issue for the economy and Scotland’s is the deluge of Saudi oil driving the world price to below thirty dol...
    • 9 Dec 2015

    Scotland the Blog: A cracked bridge and packed trains cramp Scotland’s Skilled Future

    I have been watching the latest Scandi Noir " The Bridge " with its brilliantly believable human characters. Saga Noren the high functioning Asperger detective is one of the best characters in TV. The bridge in question is the Oresund crossin...
    • 15 Feb 2011

    Learning from The Apprentice: Creativity and Innovation Counts

    Episode two of The recently ended Apprentice was characterised by three skills and behaviour problems which we see a lot. I titled it creativity catfights and commercial suicide Today we’ll concentrate on creativity. Creativity is one of those skills and attributes which organisations need but which they frequently misidentify as being only in the province of so called "creative" people. So, an engineering firm trying...
    • 20 Jan 2011

    Learning from The Apprentice: 1: Desperate Dan’s Leadership Dilemma

    In this 12 week blog I will be drawing some learning and talent lessons for the last series of The BBC business talent competition. The Apprentice. This week I''ll be looking at Dan's leadership Dilemmafrom Episode 1. I will be using clips, links and references to useful books and summarising key debates as way of helping members of CIPD and the public to use the show to reflect on some of their organsation's and indeeed...
    • 22 Dec 2010

    Apprentice 12: Why Stella shone and Chris will be OK and what it tells us about Britain’s talent travesty

    And finally... Stella won Apprentice 2010 because she actually exhibited the best marketing, people and influencing skills. She was also the best in terms of her learning journey. She managed the final team task of developing a new brand of alcoholic drink brilliantly. It was her inspiration to come up with the fantastic idea of Urbon, as a female friendly “soft” variant of bourbon. She also pitched very well and kept...
    • 16 Dec 2010

    The Apprentice 11: Found out and Feeling the Vengeance of the Lord

    This was the final destructive testing of the candidates to see who would be paired up for the final showdown. All were put through the wringer. Jamie wilted under Margaret’s stone faced unwillingness to be charmed. He also got his metaphors mixed up, the wrong thing to do with a pin sharp classicist like Margaret. She had returned specially to grill candidates having just popped out to do a PhD for in papyrology for...
    • 9 Dec 2010

    Get on the Bus! Fight in the Boardroom or Get Fired

    When you get in to the boardroom on this programme you better have a strategy. Stuarts been there so many times he knows how to play it. Preen and look keen works best. But as I said last week the three C’s of charm cheek and chutzpah are a banker when the firing finger hovers. Tell him you can make him millions and he is as intrigued. Not that Lord sugar is greedy or grasping. He is a big advocate for people paying their...
    • 6 Dec 2010

    The Apprentice 9: Hard Luck stories and Soft Noses.

    The ability to negotiate, to spit on your hands and shake on a deal marks you out as a player in Lord Sugar’s world. That was hard luck for Stella and Laura. (who got fired), They suffered from confronting some of stoniest negotiators going. Buying tartan they faced a man whose hard-faced negotiating stance made Bob Crow look like the Emir of Qatar spreading the welcome mat before FIFA in Zurich last week. The women’s...
    • 25 Nov 2010

    Apprentice 8; Taking One for the Team When the Chips are Down Can get You Fired.

    I know there is pre-occupation with the Germans, in the UK, and of course some of our greatest comedy is rooted in that awkward history. The comedy of this edition of the Apprentice was the attempt to sell crisps or "Kartoffelchips" to the Germans. To be fair Herr Baggs came out best as he actually attempted to speak German. That said his show off display of counting to twenty was displayed as though he had just translated...
    • 18 Nov 2010

    The Apprentice 7: Good Teams Prop up Bad Leaders

    Week 7’s task called for skills of creativity planning costing and selling. After a trip to Pinewood the Hollywood of Britain which Sandeesh thought was a "furniture place", Lord Sugar set them up to sell "blue screen" entertainment. Basically a live action backdrop is filmed and people do something in front of it. They then hopefully buy a video of their experience. Luckily for Stuart Baggs "the boor" his team members...
    • 17 Nov 2010

    Apprentice 6: Alex Walked because he Didn't Walk the Talk

    The task was to design a new household cleaner and take it from design, through to the creation of a marketing and advertising strategy. Advertising as anyone who has worked in it, or even watched Madmen is much harder than it looks. Alex who is billed as "Unemployed Head of Communications", was the team leader on one side and Christopher the ex. Marine was team leader for the other. It’s difficult to think of two more...
    • 5 Nov 2010

    Apprentice 5; Pride and Pushiness

    Pride comes before a fall and Paloma pushed her luck. The marginal difference in sales between the teams didn't matter. Some say Paloma should have been spared and loquacious but useless Alex or superfluous Sandeesh should have walked the plank instead. However the contest was one on product selection inexpensive party dresses. Paloma as team leader lost it because she above all treated her possible supplier with a cold...
    • 29 Oct 2010

    Apprentice 4: Found out

    Some people were found out on this episode. The task of selecting innovative products and trying to flog them to hardnosed retail procurement people was a big ask. There was a reprise of episode two's chronic catfight over disputed order books. The sacking of the the atrociously bad Melissa was expected and overdue. Try as she might to convince us she was a "business person", she was indicative of that talent show chutzpah...
    • 21 Oct 2010

    The Apprentice 3: Empty Vessels, and Baked-in costs

    The positive thing about the third episode is that a lot of learning has taken place. Stuart Baggs "The Brand" has made a strategic decision not be known as Stuart Baggs the bufoon with bog brush barnet booted out in episode 3. He controlled his considerable ego albeit like a seven stone weakling restraining a helium balloon during a hurricane. He did however manage to finesse his approach and showed his selling prowess...
    • 15 Oct 2010

    The Apprentice 2: Creativity catfights and commercial suicide.

    Episode two was a brilliant lesson in the balance between confidence and competence. First of all a project manager in charge of a creative project who shut down the creative process and who had no system for getting the ideas flowing. The team was not allowed to truly innovate as in brainstorm, re-purpose or do any of the stuff that gets creative electricity going. No one would have adopted the Bookeze if they had...
    • 8 Oct 2010

    The Apprentice 1: Why Desperate Dan Got Fired

    The Apprentice is great TV and this series looks better than ever. It always starts with pantomime posturing where wannabe business titans look into the middle distance and with a straight face say things like "I am the best salesperson in the world...everything I touch turns to sold". Another said my management philosophy is JFDI (Just **** do it. This presaged the kick off task making and selling sausages whilst...
    • 10 Aug 2010

    Habits and Happiness 18: Getting the Measure of Change

    I have been occupied recently with measurement with a project on Coaching Evaluation and my general interest in the analytical side of HR. I’ve been lapping up John Boudreau’s new book "Re-Tooling HR" and can’t wait till he speaks at our Annual Conference in Manchester on the 11th of November. I share his concern that HR gets hung up about developing specific measures for everything we do. In reality organisations...
    • 3 Aug 2010

    Habits and Happiness 17: Obliquity and Getting into the Swim of Things

    John Kay is a fabulous thinker who also happens to be a top economist. In my view if he was an American he would be much more famous and highly regarded than he is. Unlike many economists he doesn’t think the world is full of rationally maximising satisfaction units reading market signals coherently. Like Paul Ormerod another brilliant British economic thinker Kay believes the world we live in is humanly messy. In...
    • 6 Jul 2010

    Habits and Happiness 16: Bringing Happiness to Book

    Happiness research is treated in two ways. Its either seen as Pollyanna-ish drivel designed to lull us into a stupor of acceptance towards our crap working lives, or its seen as a vaguely helpful decidedly fluffy intervention which might give HR a bad name. Sometime that's because the research its based on is a bit vague and indistinct. The ability to discover and cultivate the skills of happiness originated in the positive...
    • 29 Jun 2010

    Habits and Happiness 15: Habits and (all too) Human Error

    Habits and Happiness 14: Habits and Human Error As I progress very slowly I am mindful of the fact that my mind and my fallible human judgement can let me down. Just one pint and watch the first half and soon I am munching massive burger and having a multiple of pints. Talking of football I am not going to make excuses for England’s naïve defending or their toothless attack, nor even their milquetoast midfield. I though...
    • 22 Jun 2010

    Habits and Happiness 14: Success is always relative

    Habits and Happiness 14: Success Is always Relative I think it ‘s an old Woody Allen joke that "success is always relative but unfortunately the relative who is more succesful than you is your Brother In law". Anyway in my thought for the day way, I am thinking about what that means. First off all some encouragement for England they are relatively not that bad, and secondly if you want to find a comparator to make...
    • 15 Jun 2010

    Habits and Happiness 13: Success is (probably) Squiggly

    Habits and Happiness 13: Success is (probably) Squiggly One of our principal cognitive delusions is that success and achievement is linear. In fact it is, to use a non technical term, "squiggly". We make progress we fall back we make progress again we fall back. However through the squiggle of new starts and setbacks we can detect a pattern of progress. It’s easy to get disheartened as I have when not losing weight...
    • 20 Apr 2010

    Habits and Happiness 12: Getting there but not very fast

    Everyone is pre-occupied with an unpronounceable geological pile in Iceland (EyeaffJallallojokull). I know how serious the issue of volcanic ash is. There is an interesting standoff between the airlines who can see the need for grounding for a while, but whose bleeding cash flow is starting to hurt. They are now in real conflict with the scientists who may be applying the most stringent criteria of risk imaginable. That...