A new senior partner was about to be appointed at a large accountancy firm. His predecessor met with him privately and presented him with three large numbered envelopes. “Keep these in your desk drawer and open them in order as and when you run up against a problem you don’t think you can solve,” he said.
Things went along pretty smoothly, but after six months, a number of key partners resigned and the new senior partner started to take some flak. At his wits end, he remembered the envelopes. He went to the drawer and took out the first envelope. The message read, “Blame your predecessor.” The new senior partner called a Partners meeting and tactfully laid the blame at the feet of the previous senior partner.
About a year later, the firm was again experiencing some problems. Having learned from his previous experience, the senior partner quickly opened the second envelope. The message read, “Blame your management committee.” This he did and a couple of members of the committee duly stood down and were replaced. The firm’s fortunes quickly started to improve again.
After a while however the firm was once again experiencing problems. The senior partner went to his desk and removed the third envelope. The message inside read, “Prepare three envelopes.”