Dear PwC — It’s OK to make mistakes

Did you get that sinking feeling last night when watching best picture? The cast and crew from La La Land (a fantastic film) stood around thanking everyone and a little man with a red envelope rushed in and started talking to people onstage.

And then… “This is not a joke. Moonlight has won best picture.”

Anyone watching sat or stood in stunned silence — including the cast of Moonlight who went from an Academy Award Best Picture Nominee to Academy Award Best Picture Winner in a minute.

Twitter went wild with people asking, “Who got fired?

Doubtless, this was one of the massive screw-ups of 2017. It will be the subject of stand up routines for years to come. The picture of a fumbling Warren Beatty not wanting to read the name, then the acknowledgement he had the wrong envelope. Saturday Night Live wouldn’t even try to make this up.

But here’s the thing: I hope no one was fired. Now there is talk about the envelope design being unclear and the auditor tweeting moments before handing out the wrong card. Obviously a system didn’t work. Obviously a mistake was made. A good company, a learning company will be able to say, “How can we make sure this will never happen again.”

You can’t ask that question if you are trying to fire someone. You can’t ask that if the first thing out of your mouth is, “Who did this?”

Trying new things, taking chances means mistakes will be made. They have to be made. This didn’t result in any deaths, or injuries. The cast of La La Land, who won a ton of awards handled it graciously and nobly. And a lesson was learned.

The lesson wasn’t just learned from PwC but from everyone anywhere who 1) hands the envelope out to the presenter and 2) is the presenter.

Can you imagine how much criticism Warren Beatty would have had if he had turned to the auditors and said, “There’s been a mistake.”

If we as a culture were OK making mistake, that would have been OK.