4 Takeaways for Businesses from the Oscars Goof-up

The Academy Awards 2017 will go down in history books for all the wrong reasons, thanks to the highly embarrassing goof-up at the end when the Best Picture award was wrongly announced.

However, the scenes that ensued and how the whole catastrophe was handled offer some important learnings to businesses. 

Human errors are here to stay. Always try to mitigate them.

PWC the company behind the Academy’s secret ballots has been doing this for more than 10 years and has built highly efficient processes around the same. Yet a human error by passing the wrong envelope caused the chaos at the worst possible time.

Businesses need to understand that they can never get casual and nonchalant about the routine work they’ve been doing for years, especially when it is critical and when it can affect multiple stakeholders.

Any sources of potential human error need to be eliminated. Automation processes are not the do-all-end-all. A lot of thought needs to go into identifying all the manual interventions and mitigate the major risks involved. 

When in doubt, never decide in haste.

Were the legends, Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway at fault for announcing the wrong winner? No, and Yes. Though the source of the error was the person who gave the wrong envelope, Warren did sense something wrong when he saw “Emma Stone (La La Land) ” as Best Picture.

Instead of clarifying with the organizers, he passed the envelope to his co-announcer to escape the situation. Considering his age and circumstance, it is something pardonable. But this is a mistake even young coders and entrepreneurs make on a regular basis.

Make assumptions. Wrong assumptions!. The lesson is Never Assume, especially when the impact is high. In fact, even when the impact is low, it is better to make calculated decisions, because you never know, what is less severe today could turn big in the long run. 

Grace goes a long way

Few people would have known that the person who made the correction on stage and called out the Moonlight team as the actual winner was Jordan Horowitz, one of the producers of La La Land.

The graceful manner in which he handled the situation after realizing a mistake that was not his gives a valuable lesson on being a good leader. Sometimes deals don’t go your way, sometimes after you’ve almost touched the finish line. That’s life.

Learn to take it easy and acknowledge the efforts of your competitors too. A sour loser never looks good. Magnanimity goes a long way in making a good impression on your audience. A better deal will soon come your way. 

Admit mistakes that are yours. Don’t cover them up.

Ethics is a very important factor in running successful businesses in this age of corporate governance. PWC acknowledged the error on their part and wrote an apology to all the stakeholders involved.

The stress that their simple error caused to the presenters and the film makers is immeasurable. By being honest about it and by launching an investigation into the same, they must have earned some goodwill.

Whether they continue to be in the Oscars or not remains to be seen, but it’s always a good idea, to be honest to your customers.

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