What Companies Can Learn from the Oscars 2017 Mix-Up

by Hazel Sartorio on March 3, 2017 and last updated on January 28, 2019

oscars 2017, academy awards, board portal

La La Land producer Jordon Horowitz holds up the card for the Best Picture winner Moonlight. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson


We all know what happened.

The most unforgettable night in the history of Academy Awards occurred on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017 when former Bonnie and Clyde stars Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty presented the Best Picture award to critically acclaimed La La Land when in reality, Barry Jenkin’s Moonlight won the said award.

The blunder was corrected midway through the La La Land acceptance speech when producer Jordon Horowitz held up the card for the audience to see that the announcement was really a mistake.

“I’m going to be really proud to hand this to my friends from Moonlight,” Horowitz said after clarifying the error.

Who’s responsible?

The accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has overseen the Academy’s vote-counting process for 83 years. Apparently, Brian Cullinan, one of PwC’s accountants in charge of handling winning envelopes to the presenters, was responsible for the mishap. In a statement released by PwC on Monday, it was stated that Cullinan “mistakenly handed” the back-up envelope for the Best Actress award instead of the envelope for the Best Picture to Beatty and Dunaway.

“We are deeply sorry for the disappointment suffered by the cast and crew of La La Land and Moonlight,” the statement indicated.

It’s not just a simple envelope

In an interview with Fortune Magazine days before the event, Marta Ruiz, partner of Brian Cullinan in handling the Oscars results said that, “The process is still mostly manual due to the risk of leaks.” She and Cullinan physically count every single vote even after her team has already gone through and tabulated the votes.

Before a single envelope could even land on a presenter’s hand, a tedious process of tallying votes and keeping results must be followed: the tabulation of the final results at a secure, undisclosed location; the preparation of the three sets of envelopes (one set per accountant in charge and the other one to be kept in a secured place); the memorization of the final results a day before the event; and lastly, the division of stage location where the accountants will distribute the envelopes to the presenters right before coming on stage.

If you come to think of it, governors of the Academy Awards are not the only ones who still rely on manual processes. Many companies still depend on tiresome procedures just to ensure that their work is done correctly. This is because these companies are not aware that there are a lot of software products that offer competent features which would ensure security and improve their processes.

For example, companies still prefer sending out paper board packs before a meeting. But the Oscars incident showed us that even the most organized professionals in the industry can easily switch envelopes by mistake. When it happened, awkwardness filled the air inside the Dolby Theater. It was hard for the people in charge to undo the damage, especially after it aired on live TV to millions of people watching all over the world.

For companies, this means an administrator can mistakenly mail the wrong board pack to a director (in case the administrator manages several meetings), or a director can absentmindedly leave the board pack someplace and someone else can easily pick it up. These incidents have bigger consequences at stake and could damage an organization. To prevent these from happening, executives could opt to use Convene for storing and sending out meeting packs and other important documents to ensure that confidential files are accessible only to an authorized group or individual.

Sending out meeting packs is not the only feature that Convene can offer. It is a comprehensive paperless board meeting solution that lets board directors and executives securely conduct a meeting anywhere, anytime through a mobile device. Try our free trial today  to experience the future of an effective and more efficient organization.

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