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Price Waterhouse Cooper offers a lesson in responsibility.

The 2017 Academy Awards offered proof of the classic television adage, “Anything can happen on Live TV.” And it did, in absolutely incredible fashion. The wrong envelope was presented to Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, and while it’s obvious from the video that Mr. Beatty sensed it was the wrong envelope, the incorrect winner was announced. Confusion and chaos ultimately led to the category winner being corrected and “Moonlight” won Best Picture for 2017.

Two sets of envelopes are on stage at all times. One PwC rep on one side of the stage and one on the other, each with the exact same set of envelopes. The rep who handed the envelope to Warren Beatty inadvertently gave him the unused envelope for the previous category, Actress In A Leading Role, which was Emma Stone for “La La Land.”

And what did Price Waterhouse Cooper do? They owned the mistake, almost immediately and without reservation.

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A human error was made, the wrong envelope was given, and instead of looking to blame everyone else, PwC took ownership of the mistake immediately. This is called taking responsibility and the hallmark of outstanding leadership. It’s a great lesson for any company, but especially for small businesses.

No person and no company is perfect. Well all fail. We all make mistakes. We all fall short of client and consumer expectations. It’s the response of you and your company that makes the difference in your reputation and client retention. When you do not, or simply cannot, deliver what is expected, you owe it to yourself and to your client / consumer to own the shortcoming. It’s then up to you to provide the resolution up front and without reservation. Throwing the blame around to others will simply lead to frustration and ultimately loss of client / consumer support of your brand.

PwC went 83 Academy Awards without a major mistake. Yes there was a minor hiccup in 1964 but that was a music category and long before social media. Nobody is perfect. I sincerely hope The Academy retains the services of PwC and for the rest of you, use this as an outstanding example of how to handle a client shortcoming. Own your mistakes, learn from them and grow from them. Your reputation and business depend on it.

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