Thursday, November 20, 2008
it's all his fault
As I mentioned before, I was lucky to get very good training early in my career. I had a great teacher not many people have. One of the most memorable stories he told me (which I've also seen running around in emails and heard someone at my current workplace tell this story) was about someone taking over the top post of an organisation.
On his first day in the big chair, incidentally his predecessor's last day, he was given 2 envelopes. The predecessor told him that he was lucky. He screwed up quite a lot, so the board of directors were pretty annoyed so the new guy would get quite a lot of leeway to get things right. The envelopes, he was told, was when things got tough and he really couldn't think of another solution. He should open the first envelope and follow the instructions. Things would then take care of themselves, he was told. And if he ever faced another problem he couldn't solve after that, he should open the second envelope.
"But what if I have another huge problem after the second envelope?"
"Don't worry about it. The second envelope should take care of all your problems forever."
And so it was, the new guy took over the reins, and was given ample time and leeway by the board to put things right and sort out stuff. All went well until a few months down the road when a problem arised. He thought day and night about it, but couldn't find a solution until he remembered the 2 special envelopes.
He tore open the first one which read, "All your problems can be solved by putting the blame on your predecessor."
Brilliant idea! The bloke was unpopular when he left anyway! People will believe it!
And so that is what he did. He engineered a long story on how the incompetant bloke messed up everything, and that he was doing all he could to fix the problem. Easy! He was given time and space again to implement his solution even though it cost a lot of money and embarrasment for the company. But he did manage to sweep it under the carpet and the problem went away eventually.
That was all great until a year later, when all his small problems seemed to snowball and spiral out of control....time for the second envelope! He ripped it open and started sweating uncontrollably as he read its contents.
"You got away with blaming me the first time. Time for you to prepare two envelopes for your successor...."
You know Mr Lim, among the 3 stooges, I like you (and your father) the most. Simply because I don't think you are a two faced bastard and I know you are not a lunatic. But as a leader, you simply have to stop your incessant whining and bitching about every goddamned thing. People judge you on what you accomplish, not about how much you whine about things. Yes, we get that there's shit left behind. Clean it up and move on, dammit.
It's the same at work too. You either shut up and get the job done, or start preparing the two envelopes.