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A story about culture…

by mel starrs on June 8, 2006

in Management

Professor John Oakland recently held the Business Excellence module for my Executive MBA. He told this this story, which sums up culture and how it can permeate throughout a company despite personnel changes.

A man has 12 chimps in a large cage. He walks into the centre of the cage with a ladder and hangs a large bunch of bananas at the top and then walks out.

A chimp lumbers over to the ladder and climbs it in order to get a banana. The man squirts him with cold water and he returns to his chair, bananaless.

A second chimp attempts to retrieve a banana. This time the man squirts all the chimps, and the second chimp retreats, bananaless.

A third chimp tries. This time when the man squirts everyone with water, they leap upon the poor chimp and beat him.

This continues until all the chimps are soaking wet and have given up on getting the bananas for fear of the beatings.

The man then starts to remove the wet chimps, one by one, replacing with dry chimps. As soon as one of the new chimps go for the bananas, the rest set about beating him, without the man having to turn on the water.
Eventually, there are only dry chimps in the cage, and if any of them try to retrieve the bananas, the others set upon them, without ever having being squirted.

Why?

That’s what we do around here…

  • Matthew

    Quite a good analogy for climate change too. The bananas are the truth about CO2 and the so-called scientific consensus. The man with the water is actually Al Gore with his (now thoroughly discredited) hockey stick. The monkeys are… do I need to say it?

  • Matthew

    Quite a good analogy for climate change too. The bananas are the truth about CO2 and the so-called scientific consensus. The man with the water is actually Al Gore with his (now thoroughly discredited) hockey stick. The monkeys are… do I need to say it?

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