At a large corporation, the CEO who was leaving presented the new CEO with three numbered envelopes. “Open one of these if you run up against a problem you don’t think you can solve,” he said.
At first, things went along smoothly. Six months later, sales took a downturn and the CEO was catching a lot of heat. Then he remembered the envelopes. He went to his drawer and took out the first envelope.
The message was: “Blame your predecessor.”
The new CEO called a press conference and tactfully laid the blame at the feet of the previous CEO. The press and Wall Street responded positively, sales began to pick up, and the problem was soon behind him.
About a year later the company experienced another dip in sales plus some product problems. Having learned from his previous experience, the CEO quickly opened the second envelope.
The message: “Reorganize.”
This he did, and the company quickly rebounded.
After several consecutive profitable quarters, the company once again fell on difficult times. The CEO went to his office, closed the door and opened the third envelope.
The message said: “Prepare three envelopes.”