Lessons from the Academy Awards Fiasco

Lessons from the Academy Awards Fiasco


Lessons from the Academy Awards Fiasco

                   Image courtesy of Kevo Tomson @Flickr.com

So you think you’ve had a bad day?
Nothing quite compares to that of PricewaterhouseCoopers’ (PwC) last Sunday night. Come to think of it, Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway didn’t have such a good day either. By now, unless you are living under a rock (which I hope you’re enjoying), you know about the Academy Awards fiasco.
The background: Somehow, PwC gave the wrong envelope to Beatty who passed the info on to Dunaway who then announced that the Oscar for Best Picture went to “La La Land” when in fact it was supposed to go to “Moonlight.” Pandemonium ensued as the “La La Land” people – whose dreams had been dashed for all to see – left the stage and the stunned and now-elated “Moonlight” people arrived to try and make some sense of it all. It was quite the jaw-dropping scene, believe me.
Epic. Failure.
The sad part is, there were three ways that this could have been avoided.

1. Obviously, PwC could have – and should have – handed off the correct envelope to Beatty. I mean really, weren’t they getting the big bucks to do this? And if you’re going to mess up, go low(er) level. Like, give the wrong envelope for Animated Short. The oops is still big, but not quite as stunning as messing up the Best Picture announcement. PwC rightly holds the majority of the blame.
Lesson One: Check and re-check your materials before handing them out.
2. But, Beatty could have asked for clarification when he saw something was wrong. In retrospect, he kept looking at the card, looking into the envelope to see if something was missing. It was clear he was befuddled by what his eyes were seeing and what his brain was telling him. He must have been thinking, “Am I giving out the ‘Best Picture’ award? Why does this card say ‘Best Actress’?” Yes, it would have been embarrassing in the moment to stop and ask, but it would have prevented the even bigger embarrassment that was on the horizon.
Lesson Two: Trust your gut. If something doesn’t look right, for heaven’s sake, speak up.
3. And then Dunaway could have taken a moment and assessed for herself what was going on. How nice of Beatty to just hand the card to her without explaining his own confusion. I can identify with Dunaway. “Give the dang card to me! Get the information out! Stop lollygagging!” And well, you see where that got her. She pretty much fled the scene while Beatty gamely (lamely?) tried to explain what he thought had happened.
Lesson Three: Take a breath. Double-check the information you’ve been handed.
Lesson Four: If you are fully or partially responsible for the mistake, stick around for the aftermath.
Most of you don’t have the same platform as the Academy Awards. (If you do, please call me and we’ll do lunch…my treat.) But most of you do have a weekly “presentation” that you’re responsible for. Inspiring generosity – in addition to giving – is also about instilling trust and confidence in what you and your congregation or organization is doing in the world. Human error happens. Goodness knows I’ve made plenty. That’s life. But putting your best foot forward means taking the time to avoid mistakes, trusting your gut, and taking a deep breath. Errors may not always be completely avoidable but hey, good news! No Academy Awards fiascos for you.
Cesie Delve Scheuermann (pronounced “CC Delv Sherman,” yes, really) is a consultant in stewardship, development, and grant writing. Over the past fifteen years, while working as a volunteer and part-time consultant, she helped raise over three million dollars for numerous non-profit organizations. She’s happy she wasn’t in charge of the Oscar “In Memorium” segment this year. Right name, wrong photo…of a living person. She was the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference Lay Leader from 2008-2012. Her position with the Conference is funded through a generous grant from the Collins Foundation. She is available to consult with churches. You can reach her at inspiringgenerosity@gmail.com or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/inspiringgenerosity.
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Cesie Delve Scheuermann

Cesie Delve Scheuermann is consultant in grant writing and stewardship/development working with the Conference. From 2008-12 she was the Conference Lay Leader for the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference.

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