A newly hired operations manager spends a week with the outgoing operations manager in order to learn his new duties and responsibilities.
As the outgoing manager gets ready to leave for good, he tells the new manager that he has placed three numbered envelopes in the top drawer of the desk. He tells the new manager that each time he runs into a crisis that he cannot solve to open an envelope, starting with the first one, and follow the instructions inside.
For the first couple of months, everything seemed to be moving smoothly for the new manager until some issues with production developed and his division began to underperform. Trying to figure out what to do, he went to the envelopes and opened the first one. The note inside said: “Blame everything on your predecessor since he’s gone and isn’t here to defend himself.” So the new manager blames the present problems on the previous operations manager and everything works out.
About a year into the job, something causes the poducts to have defects which then causes a dip in sales for the company. Not knowing how to solve this problem, the manager goes to his desk and opens the second envelope. The note says: “Reorganize.” So the manager reorganizes his division and the company recovers.
Another year goes by when a shortage of raw materials causes the cost of production to sky rocket and the manager can no longer stay on budget while meeting his production quota. Unable to think of a solution, he goes and opens the third and final envelope. In it was a note with instructions that read: “Prepare three envelopes.”