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Three envelopes

A new manager spent a week at her office, working alongside the man she was due to replace.  On his last day, the departing manager told her, “I will do for you what my predecessor did for me.  I have left three numbered envelopes in your desk drawer.  Each one contains a fool-proof three-word tip.  Open an envelope if you hit a crisis you can’t solve.”

Three months down the line the company experienced a dip in sales, combined with serious product problems.  The new manager was starting to feel very threatened by the unfolding situation when she remembered those parting words.  After a moment’s thought she decided to open the envelope numbered 1.  Inside was a short message:  “Blame your predecessor”.  She followed the advice and her explanation was accepted.

A few months later, there was a foul-up in the delivery of a major order.  Amid growing anxiety, the manager quickly opened the second envelope.  The message read “Blame your staff”.  This she did.  A couple of people were “made redundant” and everything gradually returned to an even keel.

Some months after that, the company lost one of its biggest customers to a keen competitor.  With great confidence the manager reached for her third envelope.  The message inside said simply “Prepare three envelopes”.

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