The new CEO was only into his first year when his company hit some quarterly financial challenges. One of his internal confidants and chief of staff was extremely supportive, trying to be resourceful and a good sounding board. The CEO said he had this “under control.”
Then he turned to his underling and said he was coached earlier in his career by his outgoing CEO at another firm. He said here’s what you do when you have major decisions to make under challenging times.
He goes on tell him that he was told to write out 3 different messages and put them in their individual envelops. Then when he has a major negative challenge occurs, he will open each of the envelops at those times.
The first envelope he opens the message says ‘Lay-offs’. The CEO instructs his staff cut headcount budgets.
After three quarters the financial picture is even bleaker, so he opens the second envelope. This one says ‘Reorganization’. The CEO then orders his staff to reorganize and continues to cut operating cost.
Six months later things are even worse. His chief of staff asks him to please open the third envelope, as the situation is dire. The CEO opens the envelope and his says ‘Write out three more envelopes’.
Although humorous, this little story does bring to light how ill prepared some leaders are, because they only look at strategies based on limited quarterly results. It’s frightening to employees, managers, vendors, and customers when companies take a zig-zag approach to improving results.
Well thought out strategies take superior leadership, well grounded research and development, including internal and external communications with all stakeholders. Self disclosure in trying times is essential to creating trust and financially sound strategies.
And as they say, ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’, neither will making a turnaround in one or two quarters without great team work and planning. For more information on check out our link ‘Business Strategies for Success.‘
John Estrada is best known for his business approach in the Human Resources field, particularly with work in the leadership/executive coaching, career development and talent management arena.
To inquire about about John’s career coaching services please click on this link.
What an interesting story and spot on too, you are never going to know the true volume of problems or issues from very small results. Taking a look at the problems that are currently occurring will provide insight into future ones, and perhaps writing envelopes like that can help but they cannot always be attuned to with what actually needs to be done. I do think though that leaders are indeed ill-prepared and more preventative measure need to be taken within organizations because the current models of business don’t always work. Flexibility is key.