Thought for the Day 19 October, 2017


Thought for the Day 19 October 2017

I’d like to start my thought for today with a little story called “The three envelopes”. It was told to me when I had become senior enough to become involved in the politics that are all too common in organizations of all sizes beyond one-man-bands.

Once upon a time there was a senior manager in an organization. He’d been there for a while and had done pretty well, but there was a young, and very ambitious, man who had risen rapidly and now wanted the older man’s job. Being young he decided that he didn’t want to wait until the old man retired and so he began to play politics. With a word here and a whisper there, he systematically undermined the old man’s reputation and made a play to be his successor. In a relatively short time the old man was sent on early pension with a less than generous settlement and the young man was appointed. On hand over day the old man gave his office keys to his successor.

“I know you don’t want advice from me,” he said to the grinning and almost visibly gloating youngster. “So I have left three numbered envelopes in the top right drawer of the desk. When you get into trouble, as I’m sure you will, use the envelopes in number order.”

The young man didn’t even say thank you and started to get on with his new job. Before long, productivity was down, targets were missed and the young man was struggling. He tried everything but nothing made much of a difference. In a moment of low confidence he remembered the envelopes and opened the first. It just said – “Blame your predecessor!”

“Great plan,” thought the young man and rushed off to tell his boss how much more of a mess the old man had left than was originally expected. He asked for more time and got it. Not too much later things hadn’t improved and the pressure was on again. In desperation the young man reached for the second envelope. It said “Reorganize!”

He went to his boss and explained that he needed a new structure and laid out his plan. He liked this process so much that he got away with it several times before he ran out of possible reshuffles and his boss was giving him verbal warnings. He resorted to the third envelope. It just said “Prepare three envelopes!”

Why am I relating this story today? It was prompted by the latest Zuma cabinet reshuffle, which brings me to my thought:   

 “I think Thabo Mbeki gave Jacob Zuma three envelopes. Zuma used the first one quite quickly and has now started to reiterate through the “Reorganize” message. It won’t be long before he opens the last envelope!”

And no matter how hard he tries he cannot hide the incompetence, greed, mismanagement and corruption of his administration. These reorganizations simply remove people who do not support Zuma and replace them with “yes men and women” who also want to get on the gravy train. Anyone who cannot see this, is surely blinder than a mole or a bat and more stupid than the dumbest creature on the planet. (Who probably is also a politician!!!)

Cheers, Dave


About Dave Macfie

Dave Macfie is the General Manager and Lead Consultant of Unique Advantage South Africa, a consulting company specializing in creating unique business advantage from purpose, analysis, insight, alignment and action. Dave’s qualifications include a double honors degree in mathematics and physics and a post graduate certificate in education. (Cum Laude) His career spans forty five years of experience in IT, business, property development and high school teaching. He lives in Johannesburg, South Africa with his wife Sandi and three of his seven children. Dave loves addressing business performance challenges, reading, writing fiction and non-fiction, gardening and spending time with his family.

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