A group of scientists placed 5 monkeys in a cage and in the middle, a ladder with bananas on top.
Every time a monkey went up the ladder, the scientists soaked the rest of the monkeys with cold water.
After a while, every time a monkey went up the ladder, the other ones beat up the one on the ladder.
After some time, no monkey dare to go up the ladder regardless of the temptation.
Scientists then decided to substitute one of the monkeys. The first thing the new monkey did was go up the ladder. Immediately, the other monkeys beat him up.
After several beatings, the new member learned not to climb the ladder even though he never knew why.
The second monkey was substituted and the same thing occurred. The first monkey participated on the beating for the second monkey. A third monkey was changed and the same was repeated. The fourth was then substituted and the beating was repeated and finally the fifth monkey was replaced.
What was left was a group of 5 monkeys that, despite having never received the cold shower, continued to beat up any monkey who attempted to climb the ladder.
If it was possible to ask the monkeys why they would beat up all those who attempted to go up the ladder, the answer would most likely be something to the tune of, “I don’t know, that’s just how things are around here.” Sound familiar?
Share this with someone who you know might be asking themselves why we continue to do things the same way, even if there’s a different, better alternative.
This story is based on the experiments of Harry Harlow and was written by Professor Gary Hamel, author of Competing For The Future.