Once upon a time there was a high-performing team. The manager of this team had ‘come up through the ranks,’ and was recognized for his skills. When the time was right, he decided to move into a new role.

Since he was a good manager, he had a succession plan – to promote his replacement from within his team.

The manager called in his replacement, and explained the upcoming transition. The soon-to-be manager expressed concern that he might not be up to the task of replacing his boss.

The experienced manager said, “Don’t worry. I’m confident in your skills, and I have prepared three envelopes. Keep them in your desk, and pull one out in the event of a crisis you don’t know how to handle.”

As time went by, the new manager assumed his role and was generally successful. Eventually, there was a crisis he didn’t know how to handle, so he opened the first envelope. The contents said, “Blame your predecessor.” So he blamed his predecessor, and somehow the team muddled through.

More time passed, and eventually a second crisis arose. The somewhat-experienced manager opened the second of the envelopes. The content read, “Reorganize.” So he reorganized, and somehow the team muddled through the crisis.

Still more time passed, and a third crisis arose. The now-wizened manager opened the third envelope. The contents read, “Prepare three envelopes…”