Three Envelopes

The departing CEO of a high-tech company held a private meeting with his new replacement. He presented his successor with three numbered envelopes.

“If you run into a problem you just can’t solve, open one of these,” he said.

Things went along smoothly for months, but eventually sales took a downturn. At his wit’s end, the new CEO remembered the three envelopes. He opened the first envelope. Inside, a single sheet of paper read, “Blame your predecessor.” Good advice, thought the new CEO, and he called a press conference to tactfully lay the blame at the feet of his predecessor. Satisfied with his comments, the press and Wall Street responded positively, the stock price firmed, and sales picked up.

About a year later, the company again experienced a dip in sales and some serious product defects. The CEO decided to open envelope number two. Inside, a single sheet of paper read, “Reorganize.” So he did, and again the company rebounded.

But then, after several consecutive profitable quarters, the company once again fell on difficult times. So the CEO opened envelope number three.

Inside, a single sheet of paper read, “Prepare three envelopes.”

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