A chap is taking over the managing director post at a large company. His remit is to turn it around and head for profitability again.
The out-going MD has a chat with him just prior to his leaving for good.
“Now, I am going to give you a bit of advice,” the old MD says, “Here are three envelopes. Only open them if things go bad, one for each occasion should they do. Do this in the order I have numbered them.”
The guy thanks him and he takes up the post.
After making some modest progress the company dips down again and he opens Envelope Number 1
In it is a piece of paper on which is written, “Blame your predecessor.”
This he does and it satisfies the rest of the board and shareholders and he struggles on with it all. To no avail, next year’s losses are even greater.
So he opens Envelope Number 2, and that has inside it the following advice. “Reorganise.”
So he sets in train a root and branch shuffling of employees and directors, he sets up credit with the banks on different terms, performs a new marketing exercise and crosses his fingers.
A year later the company looks certain to go bust under him, so he is asked to consider his position.
Despairing he opens Envelope Number 3
“Prepare three envelopes…”