A new manager spends a week at his new office with the manager he is replacing. On the last day, the departing manager tells him: “I have left three numbered envelopes in the desk drawer. Open an envelope if you encounter a crisis you can’t solve”.
Three months down the track there is a major drama, everything goes wrong – the usual stuff – and the manager feels very threatened by it all. He remembers the parting words of his predecessor and opens the first envelope. The message inside says: “Blame your predecessor!” He does this and gets off the hook.
About half a year later, the company is experiencing a dip in sales, combined with serious product problems. The manager quickly opens the second envelope. The message read: “Reorganise!” This he does, and the company quickly rebounds.
Three months later, at his next crisis, he opens the third envelope. The message inside says: “Prepare three envelopes”.