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The bananas were placed on the top step, and all five monkeys began to climb the steps to get them. Once all the monkeys were on the steps, they were sprayed with ice-cold water, which frightened them and they also hated getting wet. This happened every time they tried to get the bananas, so eventually they gave up trying. Next, they placed a new monkey in the habitat, while one of the original monkeys was removed. The new monkey saw the bananas and instinctively made for the steps, and the other monkeys threatened him and shrieked and he eventually gave up trying. A second monkey was then placed in the habitat and another of the original monkeys was removed. They threatened the second new monkey as she tried to get to the bananas and it was interesting to see that the first new monkey joined in even though he had never been sprayed with water. The same phenomenon was observed as they replaced the third and fourth and fifth monkeys into place. Now, none of these monkeys living in the habitat had ever been punished with cold water for climbing up the steps. Yet as the fifth new monkey made a dash for the steps the other four, as before, screamed and threatened her until she gave up.

The conclusion to be drawn is that, in the end, the monkeys were upholding a social norm that was no longer connected to a logical consequence. Some people also resist change, and I wonder what the outcome would be if they didn’t play one of these parts as above. Do you sometimes act like these monkeys? Or are you happy to see what change could bring if only you let it?

Change is ultimately all about people - if they don’t change, then nothing significant changes. Being able to let go allows you to experience what happens one change at a time, one moment at a time, and one day at a time. This is where true Change Management works best. When change is embraced and you are the navigator of change, it will create a healthier, happier workplace culture.

The four responses to change







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Researchers created a comfortable habitat for five monkeys, in order to do an experiment. When the monkeys had adapted to their new habitat and had forged some relationships, a bundle of bananas was presented to them, a treat they rarely received. To get to the bananas, the monkeys would need to climb to the top of some steps.

Matters Magazine Autumn Issue  

We include some great articles on Sunshine Coast Changemakers, and give you some ideas for embracing change and being the change within your...

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