How does Paloma’s strategy fail her?

In this BBC Apprentice episode on selling fashion, Paloma was the one to be fired. Just as I thought it had reached its most dramatic, the Series just got better!

As team leader, Paloma needed a strategy to win the task, but from early on it was clear that her agenda was to line up not-so-subtle Alex as the fall guy if it all went wrong.

As a strategy, it failed to keep her in the contest.

As Lord Sugar pointed out to the hapless Sandeesh, Alex’s mistake about the promotional area location, could only be a minor part in the overall loss of the task.

Moreover, Alex, a self-declared retail guru, had probably made up for this mistake by getting quarter-hourly TV coverage on the big screen at the shopping centre. Pretty clever?

As Nick Hewer pointed out, the other team only managed a vase of flowers in the window of their display, by comparison!

Furthermore, as a fashion expert said on the follow-up show, Alex was right about some of the merchandising ideas.

So was Alex the “weakest link”? By no means. So why did Paloma’s strategy focus on him?

And why did she ignore the positive contributions he made too? And why exclude the others from her displeasure?

Sometimes we make our minds up too quickly. It’s bizarre but both Paloma and Alex did this, but in different ways. We confuse open-mindedness for indecision.

Alex made up his mind about how great his choice of space was, before working out that it was miles away from the team’s shop.

Paloma made up her mind to single out Alex, when he committed himself so quickly and with such conviction. He made himself an easy target. Neither deviated until too late.

It was clear what Paloma was going to do in the car scene. The team saw it. So did we. Basically: “if this all goes wrong we blame Alex”!

Paloma made her task more difficult by losing the pitch for the best-selling fashion line to the other team. She then chose an overly expensive line as replacement. This struggled to sell.

Fast forward to the highly stressful boardroom. Alex knew what was coming and was ready for her. Paloma launched her assault.  I’ve seen similar myself in the real world. It’s conflict, it’s aggressive and it’s ugly.

Paloma’s fatal error was trying to do Lord Sugar’s job for him when she brought Sandeesh into the firing line. Because there was no real reason to, other than Sandeesh’s poor performances in previous weeks.

It was not appreciated by the boss. From this point on Paloma’s card was marked. She has not been looking at the task, and for that read: not looking at the business challenges he will set her if he hires her.

No she’s looking at the contenders and how she can unseat them (Lord Sugar’s job).

Was she singling out Alex all along because he was a strong contender (albeit a bit irritating)? I’m afraid that happens in the real world too, doesn’t it, and is perhaps a subject for future posts.

She became blinkered by her own beliefs. But there was insufficient logic or evidence to support them. As her defences crumbled, all that remained was her snarling at the table.

Bullying her colleagues eventually unseated her. “You’re fired”.

See also: Was Paloma too smooth?

How do you solve a problem like Melissa?;

Apprentice Mel: are they horrible people?;

How does surgeon Apprentice get the chop?;

How to win your task Stella Apprentice

About drstevelewis

Good leadership is essential for any project to succeed. I specialise in the most difficult leadership challenges; those involving the way we relate to other people or the way they relate to us. With a background of many years in business and an earlier training in medicine I combine the two in a unique consultancy.
This entry was posted in Are we logical?, Binary thinking, Bullying in leaders, Bullying in the work place, Conflict, Fall Guy Syndrome, Leadership problems, Strategy, The Apprentice, TV reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to How does Paloma’s strategy fail her?

  1. Tim says:

    For sure, Alex made one small mistake but then more than made up for it with the TV ad. Surely that must be better than just hiding in the background and doing nothing?

    If only Paloma had put as much energy into the Liquorice pitch as she did into setting up Alex as a scapegoat. But then I imagine we have all met people like that in our working lives – the person who stands next to greatness to claim as much credit as they can, but then runs a mile and has their excuses and scapegoats ready-made when things go wrong.

    Paloma made a mistake by setting Alex up so obviously and then attacking him head on in the boardroom. He has his failings, but he is articulate, he knew what was coming and he was well prepared to respond. She certainly had some good technical business skills – selling and organising, primarily – but her interpersonal skills were poor. Whenever backed into a corner, she became aggressive and negative. I’m sure in the past she has been able to talk herself out of corners, but she dug too many holes for herself on this task. And I certainly got the impression that she didn’t have many friends in the house (insofar that people in competition can ever be friends) – she certainly seemed to make plenty of enemies without ever considering that that might come back to bite her down the line.

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