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Thursday, July 19, 2012

5 monkeys : because we have always done it that way

5 monkeys : because we have always done it that way
Here is a story, not sure if it is fact or fiction. a Professor in business school at University of Georgia used it in one of his lectures while I was there.


A study was done where they started with a cage containing five monkeys. Inside the cage, they hung a banana on a string and placed a set of stairs under it. Before long, one monkey went up to the stairs and started to climb towards the banana. As soon as he touched the stairs, they sprayed all of the other monkeys with cold water. After a while, another monkey makes an attempt with the same result – the other monkeys are sprayed with cold water. Pretty soon, when another monkey tries, the other monkeys will try to prevent it.

After it is evident that none of the monkeys will attempt to go up the stairs to get the bananas, the researchers put away the cold water. they being to remove one monkey from the cage and replace it with a new one. 

Each time they do this the new monkey sees the banana and tries to climb the stairs. To his dismay, all the other monkeys attack him, preventing him from going up the stairs. After another unsuccessful and painful attempt, he knows if he touches the stairs he will be assaulted, without ever knowing why.

The researchers continue by removing another of the original five monkeys and replacing it with a new one. The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked. 

The previous newcomer joins in the punishment with enthusiasm! 

This is done again by replacing a third monkey with a new one, then a fourth, then the fifth. Every time a newcomer takes to the stairs, he is attacked, with no understanding of why.

Keep in mind eventually none of the monkeys beating the newcomer have no idea why they are not permitted to climb the stairs or why they are participating in the beating of the newest monkey. 



whether or not this is a true story is irrelevant, as the story points out that we as leaders and even followers, must always be questioning the why of each and every action, process, best practice and policy that we engage with or are aware of.

otherwise we just become another monkey.


for those that do not like reading here is a video explaining this courtesy of Jeff Bridges. 



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