The old CEO was retiring and a new CEO was hired to replace him at a large company. Before the old CEO left, he met with the new CEO privately, and presented him with three numbered envelopes. “Open these if you run up against a problem you don’t think you can solve,” he said.
Well, things went along pretty smoothly, but six months later, sales took a downturn and the new CEO was really catching a lot of heat. About at his wit’s end, he remembered the envelopes. He went to his drawer and took out the first envelope. The message read, “Blame your predecessor.”
The new CEO called a press conference and tactfully laid the blame at the feet of the previous CEO. Satisfied, the press and Wall Street responded positively, sales began to pick up and the problem was soon gone.
About a year later, the company was again experiencing a slight dip in sales, combined with serious product problems. Having learned from his previous experience, the CEO quickly opened the second envelope. The message read, “Reorganize.” He did this, 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 letter said, “Prepare three envelopes.”