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Business, STEM

#OscarMishaps and Making Things Right

the-oscars-2017_best-picturesIf it is not obvious to you by now, some folks will be talking about the finale of the 2017 Academy Awards Program for a very long time. I watched the Oscars last night and stayed engaged 3+ hours up to the last award given for Best Picture. I watched as the director of La La Land, Jordan Horowitz, and members of the cast and crew headed toward the stage. After Horowitz began his acceptance speech for the award, I switched to one of the local channels for the late evening news where they were also talking about the Oscars and providing some updates.

Therefore, imagine my surprise on waking this morning to hear that there had been a #MissUniversePagentMishap2 in the reporting of the Best Picture Award. Instead of La La Land taking Best Picture, the actual award went to Moonlight, and all of this happened within seconds of my switching channels.

Question: What does this have to do with business and STEM?  Answer: A lot!

Mistakes, mishaps, and flubs happen all the time. Regrettably, even for the Academy Awards which is overseen by the accounting firm, Price Waterhouse Coopers, and which has the backdrop of Hollywood and its pristine air of perfection. What is important and should not be missed for this year’s Oscars program or any other program or event is that the mishap was corrected — and much sooner rather than later!! So exactly what happened last night that – with several hundred million people watching – produced a gasp that was heard around the world?

It began with actor-filmmaker Warren Beatty opening the envelope to announce the Best Picture winner. He spent more than a second or two looking at it and flipping it over, then he looked at his co-presenter Faye Dunaway who commented, “You’re awful! God.” He shows her the card, then Dunaway announced the winner as “La La Land”!

Those in the audience and the rest of us at home were probably wondering what was going on with Beatty’s odd reaction to the card he was holding in his hand. Was there a problem or was it minor theatrics to delay or milk the moment just a little bit longer before announcing the Best Picture winner? After Dunaway announced that La La Land was the winner of this year’s Best Picture, the film’s producer, Jordan Horowitz, and those associated with the production of the movie are seen jumping for joy as they head toward the stage.

One watching the program and very familiar with how things are supposed to go was actor Neil Patrick Harris who tweeted: Warren Beatty seems to be opening an envelope that says ‘Actress in a Leading Role’. He must have been handed one somehow. Yikes.

Beatty and Dunaway were apparently given the envelope for Emma Stone’s best actress win that was announced just moments earlier. Looking back, it is now clear that Beatty was befuddled and not sure what to make of this and perhaps hoping that someone off-stage would say something. However, by the time the mistake had been fully realized, the La La Land crew was on stage and Horowitz had started his acceptance speech. At some point, the right envelope was retrieved and the message is given to Horowitz that the Best Picture winner is actually Moonlight.  Rather than walking off-stage, or allowing Beatty and Dunaway or even host Jimmy Kimmel to inform the audience of the era, Horowitz steps back in the spotlight and says: “No, there’s a mistake. Moonlight, you guys won best picture. This is not a joke.”

Once the cast and crew of Moonlight were recognized for Best Picture, and they were as shocked with disbelief as everyone else, host Jimmy Kimmel said: “Warren, what did you do?”

To his question, Beatty responded: “I want to tell you what happened. I opened the envelope and it said Emma Stone, ‘La La Land.’ That’s why I took such a long look at Faye and at you. I wasn’t trying to be funny.”

Following the program, Price Waterhouse Coopers issued the following statement: “We sincerely apologize to Moonlight, La La Land, Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, and Oscar viewers for the error that was made during the award announcement for Best Picture,” the statement read. “The presenters had mistakenly been given the wrong category envelope and when discovered, was immediately corrected. We are currently investigating how this could have happened, and deeply regret that this occurred.”

In the coming weeks, the folks at Price Waterhouse Coopers and those who hosts the annual Academy Awards will be looking for a “there-there” as to how last night mix-up occurred. However, one of the most important take-aways for each of is that mistakes and mishaps occur. And when they do, we should move sooner rather than later to resolve them. That is true in Hollywood, but it is also true in government, corporations, academia, business and STEM, and even in our personal lives and relationships.

In summing up last night’s huge Oscar mistake, Josh Daffem of Patheos tells us:“Life doesn’t come with multiple takes, camera and lighting crew, special effects and a soundtrack. You get one take at life, and if you mess it up, you deal with the consequences forevermore. Perfection as produced by Hollywood is a myth. We make mistakes, which means we’re not perfect, which means we need grace and forgiveness.”

A good leader makes things right! If you would like to read more on this topic, go to Leaders: Making Things Right.


About Vi Brown

Vi is principal and CEO of Prophecy Consulting Group, LLC, an Arizona firm that provides business and engineering services to private and public clients. Prior to establishing her consulting practice in 2001, Vi worked with Motorola, Maricopa County Government, Pacific Gas & Electric, CH2M Hill, and Procter & Gamble. As an adjunct faculty member, Vi teaches undergraduate calculus classes and graduate level environmental courses. She is also a professional speaker.


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