Undercover Boss Lessons

My favorite TV depiction of business is the Undercover Boss franchise. The Apprentice looks artificial, and even Dragons’ Den palls after a time.

The premise of the programme is that the boss dons a disguise and goes under cover in their own company posing as perhaps an unemployed worker testing out possible careers for a TV programme. Because they are not there as the boss, they obtain a much clearer idea of what is going on in the company. Of course, the company chooses the locations, so it is unlikely that they would (as it were) show the horsemeat going into the lasagne!

Generally, the programme shows responsible and committed workers, many of whom a struggling with problems, or have taken on commitments outside work, such as coaching a children’s sports team.

Two lessons can generally be drawn. One is that the boss is generally not very good at the front line work. The other is that workers are often working hard at doing something inefficiently, when the company could provide an easy solution. This could be as simple as providing sat nav to drivers.

Versions of the show from the USA and Australia add a cultural twist.

Search the schedules of Cannel 4 and its offshoots – you may get some useful insight.



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