Should Felipe have been fired?

I haven’t yet watched “You’ve been fired” so I don’t know what Dara, his panel and the audience felt about the latest firing, but there was certainly a lot more debate than usual in my house last night as the latest episode of BBC’s The Apprentice drew to a close. It all centred around whether Lord Sugar was right to fire Felipe, or to be more precise whether his team were unjustly deemed to have lost the task.
It all centred on their purchase of a life-sized anatomically correct skeleton. Felipe found a paper skeleton, which seemed to meet the terms of the task, but he and his team were judged to have not purchased what Lord Sugar wanted – a conventional medical skeleton on a frame.
It’s a situation we have probably all encountered in some way (probably not with a skeleton involved though), when there is a gap between what someone says they want (the written or verbal instruction) and what they meant (the idea they hold in their head).
Sometimes it’s hard to put into words what we are thinking, and even if we do manage it, words can mean different things to different people, so it’s not surprising that an ‘understanding gap’ can emerge.
I always encourage people who are taking a ‘brief’ to ask lots of questions, give examples and anything else they can think of to tease out of their client exactly what they want; and what they don’t want. I also suggest that a confirmation of what has been asked for is sent back to the client so they have an opportunity to confirm their instructions have been well understood.
It can feel a bit bureaucratic, and both agencies and clients can be impatient, but I think it’s generally better to be really clear about what is needed than to risk a misunderstanding which can waste time and money and in extreme situations result in being fired – like Felipe.