You know when you’re in meetings with the old, stubborn guys that “don’t get it” with regard to digital, social media or other change? Or the CEO that has been running their business for 27 years, is now losing money, but won’t shake it up a bit to survive? I. HATE. THAT. This is one of my favorite stories to illustrate the problem that I’ve told to NUMEROUS clients, written in “Exploiting Chaos” and enjoyed by many innovators around the world… Happy Reading!
(this is NOT word-for-word, but you get the idea)
5 monkeys were placed in a cage, and in that cage was a ladder that led up to a ripe bunch of bananas. The catch is that there was a water hose connected to the ladder, and every time a monkey climbed up to get a banana, ALL THE MONKEYS were soaked with the hose.
When the 1st monkey scampered up for a banana, they were all soaked with water. Then another got hungry and tried the same, and another. At this point, the monkeys in the cage caught on and quit climbing the ladder.
The scientists then began swapping the original monkeys 1-by-1 with new monkeys. When a new monkey got in the cage and started running to the bananas, the group would attack it before it could get there so they didn’t get soaked. This happened time and time again, even when it was now all new monkeys in the cage.
The water hose was eventually removed, but it didn’t matter — the monkeys would not dare go for the bananas now… The message (or company culture) was now engrained in them.
The same behavior kept persisting until the monkeys were going to starve, simply because “thats the way we do things around here”…