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The People vs. OJ Simpson

I missed this on FX when it first came out.

I mean, anyone that is over the age of 35 probably remembers everything about the OJ case: the white Bronco, the trial, the verdict.

The thing is do we really know the story or are our memories faulty?

I’m not going to sit here and tell you that something like a mini-series is ever going to give you the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

I think what a show like this does do is offers you up an opportunity to rethink how you saw or perceived an event. Or, at least that is what this show did.


Because for the most part, 20 years is a long time and how many of us forget what we had for breakfast most days?

If you were paying attention or have a memory that is vivid about the case, you likely always remembered that you were shocked that OJ was acquitted.

I can remember that pretty clearly myself. Though I may just be making that up because isn’t that what everyone says?

But the thing about watching a recreation of the entire story is that a lot of what you may have remembered or thought was tempered by your POV at the time and maybe as you went forward your POV changes.

After watching the film, you are more sympathetic to the fact that the LA DA couldn’t get a conviction. There were so many things that were going on in the world at that time that it would have been impossible for them to get away with a conviction.

But you also see that it was as much about the case that the DA offered up being faulty as a combination of things that went the way OJ needed them to go: allowing the Furman tapes to be admitted, the fact that OJ had the money to hire a dream team of lawyers, the wisdom of Robert Shapiro getting Robert Kardashian to activate his legal license to shield him from being asked to testify.

On and on and on.

While this has been about a TV show, let me ask you this: How many of the other things that we have believed or held as true are actually true?

Or, to put it a different way: If we were to revisit some things, would we change our mind about them?

I can see that it is pretty easy to change your estimation of a president after he has left office.

I mean as Barack Obama was leading the country, his approval ratings hovered in the 40s. But as he got closer and closer to leaving office, his approvals shot up. The same thing happened for Bill Clinton.

I’m sure if I looked it up, that this would be common.

I also think that this situation plays out in our businesses and organizations.

Take a look at something like Steve Jobs’ decision to whittle down the product line at Apple when he returned as CEO. That wasn’t a universally admired decision at the time because there were always analysts on Wall Street and in the media that were talking about how profitable a product line was, even if the company wasn’t the best at printers or pocket assistants or any of the other things that Apple killed off.

In retrospect, it was a genius move to whittle down to a group of core businesses and products and to be the best at them.

I’d argue that’s likely always the right way to go, but that’s me.

But that’s just the thing, many of the right decisions or consensus decisions that are obvious aren’t all that obvious with a little distance.

That doesn’t mean you have to wait forever to know whether or not your are going to be right or wrong, but it does mean that you probably have to spend a little more time thinking about where you are going and why you are making those kinds of decisions.

Going back to the OJ case, the idea of having Mark Furman testify was a bad idea from the start. And, I think that from the telling of the story, Marcia Clark went so far down the road that she couldn’t take a step back and look at the long road. To see where she was going and what she needed to do to ensure she was in the best position possible.

When you flip that with Steve Jobs, you can see that he had enough confidence to take the long term view that if you aren’t the best at something…is it worth doing?

What I am getting at is that, snap decisions aren’t always the best. No matter what Malcolm Gladwell says.