Why We Heart that Oscars Gaffe

If you didn’t see the moment when the Best Picture Oscar was graciously and decisively handed to its rightful recipients, you missed a great lesson in risk management.

In this unbelievable situation, millions worldwide witnessed how different types of people react in a crisis. And it gives us a couple of great lessons to learn about risk management.

Lesson 1 – Be Humble but Decisive – Think of Others First
“There’s a mistake.” Jordan Horowitz, holding what he initially thought was his Oscar, took only a few seconds to analyse, assess, control and minimise the unacceptable situation in which he found himself. Instead of worrying about “protocol”, or who he might offend, or what others might think of him, he sought immediate correction. “This is not a joke, you won best picture.”

This reaction was both humble and decisive. While everyone else on stage, including those responsible for the mistake, were still flapping in confusion and shock it was Horowitz who no doubt swallowed all pride to step up to the mic and admit defeat to a bewildered audience. Why? Because he thought of others before he thought of himself, he saw the bigger picture.

Can you think of any time when you’ve been at an SDA Church-owned site and saw something you thought was not right, unsafe or risky? Were you decisive and, thinking of the safety of others first, took steps to fix it?

Lesson 2 – Distracted and Complacent? Failure may be too strong a word, but…
Circling back to the root cause of the problem, the now infamous PwC accountant responsible for “envelopegate”, was reportedly distracted at the time. I feel sorry for him because for the past four years he and his colleague had performed a faultless job, and we’ve all at some point been distracted and complacent, maybe even when it really counted. Sometimes fresh eyes on the task can find the potential gaps…or gaffes in this case.

It is often true that when things are going well, and complacency takes over that something small and subtle creeps in resulting in disaster. We’re not equating the mistake at the Academy Awards as a disaster – certainly reputations were bruised but nobody was seriously hurt or died – but it is a light example of how we can learn from the things that go wrong.

So remember:
1. Be decisive, if you can fix something for the safety of others, then do it.
2. Avoid distractions, especially where safety counts, and don’t become complacent.

Photo: Shutterstock.com