There’s a story that goes –
A group of scientists placed five 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 would start up the ladder, the others would pull it down and beat it up.
After a time, no monkey would dare try climbing the ladder, no matter how great the temptation.
The scientists then decided to replace one of the monkeys. The first thing this new monkey did was start to climb the ladder. Immediately, the others pulled him down and beat him up.
After several beatings, the new monkey learned never to go up the ladder, even though there was no evident reason not to, aside from the beatings.
The second monkey was substituted and the same occurred. The first monkey participated in the beating of the second monkey. A third monkey was changed and the same was repeated. The fourth monkey was changed, resulting in the same, before the fifth was finally replaced as well.
What was left was a group of five monkeys that – without ever having received a cold shower – continued to beat up any monkey who attempted to climb the ladder.
If it was possible to ask the monkeys why they beat up on all those who attempted to climb the ladder, their most likely answer would be “I don’t know. It’s just how things are done around here.”
(originally published on Wisdom Pills)
Culture and set behaviors are incredibly powerful. They affect every new employee, so that they, too, become engrained in the cultural norm. Oftentimes, we are not aware of them just because “that’s how it’s always been”, and we assume we asked the right, challenging questions before. However, it’s not the case. Sprinkle in hubris, and you have a never-ending cycle.
Of course, these establishments also promote loads of opportunities for entrepreneurs and challengers to come in with a fresh take. Once value is realized amongst a few, change can happen. Then, perhaps it’s just a matter of time.
Start with the challenger.