By Alan Graner
Although the following story is found throughout the Internet, no one knows where it originated. Or whether it’s even real.
The banana and five monkeys
Imagine a largish cage. Hanging from the top of the cage is a nice, ripe banana. A conveniently placed ladder lets you climb up and grab the banana.
Now enter five monkeys. One of them spots the banana and thinks it would be a great idea to climb the ladder and grab it. Just as he touches the banana, hidden sprayers douse the remaining four monkeys with cold water.
A little while later a different monkey climbs the ladder, and again the four others are sprayed with cold water. When a third monkey attempts to climb the ladder, the other four attack him to prevent another dousing.
Then the experiment turns devious.
One of the original monkeys is replaced with a new one who, seeing the banana, thinks it a capital idea to grab it. As he begins his climb, he’s assaulted by the other four. Bewildered, he tries again and is again attacked. He has no idea why he’s being attacked, but he accepts the fact that climbing the ladder is simply not done here.
A second new monkey enters the cage to replace one of the original five. He, too, tries to climb the ladder and is immediately attacked. The first new monkey enthusiastically joins the others in pummeling the newcomer even though he has no idea why he is attacking.
This process continues until all five of the original monkeys have been replaced. None of the new monkeys understands why they are not permitted to climb the ladder, but none questions the idea he must attack anyone who tries.
Corporate cultures develop over the years. Each has its own rules about what can be done and what cannot.
When someone questions the rules or suggests a change, the corporate monkeys attack the new ideas by saying:
- We tried that before and it didn’t work.
- It costs too much.
- It’s too radical a change.
- Management will never accept it.
- Now’s not the right time.
- Let’s put it on the back burner.
Who created the rules? Nobody knows.
Why do the rules continue to exist? Nobody knows.
All they do know is that’s the way it’s always been done.
The “rules” may have made sense at one time, but that time has passed.
What’s your opinion?
Alan Graner is Chief Creative Officer at Daly-Swartz Public Relations, an Orange County, CA business marketing content and distribution firm. For content that makes you stick out from the crowd, email Jeffrey Swartz at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or visit www.dsprel.com.