In an industry where pomp and circumstance is the order of the day, the irony of an almost-nuclear mistake at an incorrect winner being read out at the Oscars, is almost palpable. So how did one of the world’s most prestigious events, coupled to one of the world’s biggest consulting brands, get things so horribly wrong? Here are 4 things that we’ve learnt.
1. People, and even huge consulting firms, make mistakes.
Unless the world was 100% automated, controlled only by robotic intelligence where failure was reduced to less than 1%, the chances of every process progressing without any hiccup or mistake would be zero. Mistakes happen. Even with major, global consulting brands. Accepting this should not become an excuse for a lack of planning, but rather an encouragement to plan for those “When Things Go Wrong” moments. Hindsight is 20/20. Excite had the opportunity to buy Google in 1999 for less than $1million. Blockbuster turned down multiple offers to buy Netflix and a grade-school mathematics error cost NASA $125 million. Mistakes happen. Plan for if they do.
2. The focus quickly shifts from the event to the resolution
If we look back at those few moments when the incorrect movie title was read out as the winner of the Best Film award for 2017, our attentions are drawn less from the moment they are read out, and rather to the moments of reaction that followed, and more specifically the way in which it was resolved. While in the midst of tear-jerking acceptance speeches dabbled with French linguistic marvel, the incorrect winners were faced with the job of announcing the actual winners after a disjointed moment of intense discussion behind the presenter. In the same way – the importance of a successful resolution often overshadows the mistake itself. In this case – the grace, and integrity demonstrated by the incorrect winners meant that the correct winners will be able to celebrate and overcome the awkwardness that had resulted from a failure in the process. The way that a problem is resolved determines the future memory that stays with you, long after the mistake has happened. In this case, PwC have accepted responsibility for the failure of the correct award being announced.
3. The true value of your role in a much bigger Feature Film.
Whether you’re the person that signs off on the final counted-vote figures, or the person who is simply tasked with handing the envelope to the presenter, your role as an individual in a much bigger picture is paramount to that picture delivering client success. Many consultants that I’ve had the pleasure of speaking to over the past few months have echoed one home truth. Whether they are working independently, or whether they are working as part of a larger team under the umbrella of a global brand, the responsibility that they as individuals carry becomes attuned to the client requirements only. Their role as an individual player or part-time contributor is no more, or no less, relevant to those who negotiate the terms with the client.
4. It ain't over until the fat lady sings.
While you may think that your part of the project is done, as you sit back and sip a piña colada and take in the show, sometimes it very much isn’t. In the case of the 2017 Oscar fiasco, one wouldn’t blame PwC’s US Chairman Tim Ryan for sitting back in his chair at the ceremony and taking in the grandeur of it all. After all, I’m very sure that he was 100% confident that as an organisation, they had delivered exactly what the client expected, as they had done so many times before. However - introduce the human element. The one key element which is unpredictable and uncertain. One element which you cannot control. The lesson learnt – plan for success – but never overlook the importance of potential fall-out that may result.
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About the Author
Katy is an independent marketing consultant and founded Fresh Brew Marketing out of her love for the cuppa. A seasoned marketer, Katy writes for several global publications and provides outsourced marketing services to businesses throughout the UK. She is a keen geocacher and rates running around in city centres dressed in Christmas lights as one of her most successful Social Media campaigns to date.More Content by Katy Roberts