The three envelopes
A fellow had just been hired as the new product manager at a technology corporation. Taking the desk of the former product manager, he opened the desk-drawer to find three envelopes marked "Open in case of emergency."
Well, things went along pretty smoothly until a really big client canceled his contract and the product manager was really catching a lot of heat over the product's customer experience. At his wit's end, he remembered the envelopes. He went to his drawer and took out the first envelope.
The message read, "Blame your predecessor."
So he blamed his predecessor and everyone agreed that the old guy was kind of a jerk and this problem really was his fault. Then a few months later, the product team missed a critical date on the roadmap. The product manager explained about scope and bandwidth and the new development methodology but no one was impressed. In desperation, he opened the second envelope.
The message read, "Take the blame."
And he did. And everyone agreed he was a great stand-up guy and things will surely be better going forward.
After several profitable quarters, the product's revenues took a sharp decline. The product manager went to his office, closed the door and opened the third envelope.
The message read, "Prepare three envelopes."
Defining clear roles and responsibilities is a key part of your product playbook. A product playbook is a collection of workshops, tools, and templates to ensure your team is systematic in their methods and consistent in their deliverables.