The departing division general manager met a last time with his young
successor and gave him three envelopes. "My predecessor did this for me,
and I'll pass the tradition along to you," he said. "At the first sign
of trouble, open the first envelope. Any further difficulties, open the
second envelope. Then, if problems continue, open the third envelope.
Good luck." The new manager returned to his office and tossed the envelopes
into a drawer.
Six months later, costs soared and earnings plummeted. Shaken, the
young man opened the first envelope, which said, "Blame it all on me."
The next day, he held a press conference and did just that. The
Six months later, sales dropped precipitously. The beleaguered
manager opened the second envelope. It said, "Reorganize."
He held another press conference, announcing that the division
would be restructured. The crisis passed.
A year later, everything went wrong at once and the manager was
blamed for all of it. The harried executive closed his office door, sank
into his chair, and opened the third envelope.
"Prepare three envelopes..." it said.