This week’s task for the two ‘teams’ on the UK version of the show The Apprentice was to pan and run corporate events for a client. The show followed its weekly path of individuals vying for the job of team project manager, individuals pushing their own personal pet ideas, not really listening to each other and rarely working as a team to achieve a successful outcome.

Given the opportunity to hold a briefing meeting with the client both teams failed to really take on board what the client expected as outcomes from a team building/development day and didn’t really push to further define these outcomes in terms of what a successful event looked like or should deliver.

To make matters worse, both teams had decided on an event ‘theme’ before even meeting with the client, one going in with a medieval theme, instantly disliked by the client and changed to a
military themed day and the other a ‘school’ themed day of activity.

Neither Apprentice ‘team’ seemed to try and match client outcomes to their themed day, neither were clear in articulating to the client attendees how what they were doing during activities linked back to expected outcomes or what any learning might or should actually be.

BUT, another big impact on the teams and their events was the decision by Lord Sugar’s team to make it a task where a monetary target needed to be achieved as well. Each team was ‘given’ £5,000.00 by the client to put on the event, it was clearly stated that the team that made/saved the most money would win the task. What this meant was that a) the teams designed and organised activities as cheaply as they could and b) the client had the option, if dissatisfied, to ask for a refund of some or all of the money spent.

If you’re targeted and measured against a financial number then you perform to that financial number and outcomes go out of the window as it becomes a numbers game. Unfortunately in the way this task was set up it had a very direct and damning consequence on both expected outcomes and the eventual winning team.

So what are the lessons from this episode of The Apprentice, specifically for designing and delivering a hosted corporate team building/development event?

  • Make sure you fully understand the client’s expected outcomes and success criteria before you even start design
  • Be absolutely crystal clear how your event and activities will deliver those outcomes, make it explicit and manage expectations on the day, clearly sign-post and link back to outcomes throughout the event
  • Support attendees/participants learning and development by giving them time and space to reflect on both their individual and team learning’s and how they will take these back in to the workplace
  • You will always have to work to a budget and will always need to keep value for money at the forefront, especially for the client. BUT, this does not mean scrimping and doing things on the cheap, because otherwise this is what your event will look/feel like. YES, do try and negotiate etc. and do spend your client’s money wisely but not to the detriment of the event and expected outcomes
  • Never let a personal favourite ‘theme’ take over and dominate your planning and design just because you like it, it may be completely the wrong thing for achieving relevant client outcomes. Appropriate design, appropriate and respectful activity linked directly to learning and development is the mantra for successful events
  • Listen to your design team, share and build on ideas, design and build collaboratively, never sight of the expected outcomes
  • And lastly, don’t try and do it on national TV with lots of cameras shoved up your nose!!!
9th July, 2013

Private, public, third sector clients

  • RSA
  • School-Home Support
  • Broadway Theatre
  • BT
  • ACAS
  • Vodafone
  • Johnson Service Group PLC
  • Training for Life
  • Catalyst
  • Institute of Education (IoE)
  • Citizen’s Advice Bureau
  • University of Westminster
  • jkr
  • British Gas
  • London Borough of Barking and Dagenham
  • Health & Safety Executive
  • Allianz
  • United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
  • EFIRM
  • NHS
  • Hyde Plus
  • Brit Insurance
  • Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP)
  • Zurich
  • Barclays
  • IMS
  • Training and Development Agency (TDA)
  • Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA
  • Learn Purple
  • BP
  • English National Balle
  • Bruel & Kjaer
  • Action For Children
  • Cross Roads Care
  • Triodis Bank
  • Shoreditch Trust
  • Government Office for London
  • Ident Trust
  • QBE
  • Stakeholder Forum For a Sustainable Future
  • MBNA
  • West Kent Arts Patnership
  • International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
  • Harris HospisCare
  • BBC
  • RBS
  • Natwest
  • Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA
  • Fifteen Foundation
  • European Bank for Reconstruction & Development
  • MARS
  • Ministry of Defence (M.o.D)
  • McDonalds
  • The Talent Foundation
  • The Prince’s Trust
  • Diageo
  • Change First
  • Eurojet
  • Barclay Card
  • Walt Disney
  • Novartis
  • Home Office
  • Zero Waste Scotland
  • Virgin Media
  • KnowledgeBrief
  • ABBYY
  • United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
  • Scott Wilson
  • Citi
  • Hockerill College
  • Cubic
  • Centrica
  • Turkcell
  • Greenwich Local Authority Childrens Services
  • Maritime Cluster
  • Business, Innovation & Skills UK Government Department
  • Police Strategy Unit (PSU)
  • Diabetes UK
  • Allergan
  • WiPM (Women in Project Management)
  • St. Ethelburgas Centre for Reconciliation & Peace
  • UCAS
  • Mental Health Research Network (MHRN)
  • Pace
  • Elavon
  • The Royal British Legion
  • University of Leicester
  • Office for Criminal Justice Reform (OCJR)
  • Spear
  • Sir Oswald Stoll Foundation
  • Jobcentre Plus
  • Upstage
  • Independent Living Fund – Scotland
  • Severn Trent Services
  • Participle
  • Clinical Research Network
  • Sareos

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