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March 10, 2013 / glennlim thots

Don’t be one of the Monkeys!

ImageThere was an experiment with monkeys that were put in an electric cage with bananas hanging from the top. There was even a ladder to reach the bananas. However, whenever a monkey started to climb the ladder, the circuit under the ladder tripped and all monkeys in the cage got an electric shock! After many rounds the monkeys understood the consequences and did not attempt to climb the ladder any more.

Part 2 of this experiment now involved disconnecting the electric circuit from the cage. They took out 1 monkey from the cage and replaced him with a new monkey. The new monkey looked up at the bananas on the top and goes close to the ladder and at that instant, all the old monkeys started to beat him up! So the new monkey learns the hard way not to go close to the ladder.

Now, each week, they repeated this process and slowly replaced all the old monkeys with new monkeys. Still no one went close to the ladder because if anyone dared to, the others started to beat him up!…Eventually you have a cage full of monkeys and bananas, yet no monkey ever eats the bananas, and no monkey knows the reason ‘why’ either!

This is how a Culture in a company develops and sustains. You just talk, dress and behave a certain way because all the other monkeys do just the same. If you don’t, maybe you can get the bananas, but they will gang-up to block you, criticize you, ostracize you…and the worst thing is they don’t even know why! Their reasoning is “That’s just how things are done here!”

This week, let’s find out why things are the way they are, be it at your workplace or family. Ask: is there any relevant or real reason why the culture is such. Dare to challenge the status quo. Dare to question conventional ‘wisdom’…Glenn Lim

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