Why Some Policies Don’t Make Sense


Start with a cage containing five monkeys.

Inside the cage, hang a banana on a string and place a set of stairs under it.

Before long, a monkey will go to the stairs and start to climb towards the banana.

As soon as he touches the stairs, spray all of the monkeys with cold water.

After a while, another monkey makes an attempt with the same result – all the monkeys are sprayed with cold water.

Pretty soon, when another monkey tries to climb the stairs, the other monkeys will try to prevent it.

Now, turn off the cold water.

Remove one monkey from the cage and replace it with a new one.

The new monkey sees the banana and wants to climb the stairs.

To his surprise and horror, all of the other monkeys attack him.

After another attempt and attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs, he will be assaulted.

Next, remove another of the original five monkeys and replace it with a new one.

The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked.

The previous newcomer takes part in the punishment with enthusiasm.

Again, replace a third original monkey with a new one.

The new one makes it to the stairs and is attacked as well.

Two of the four monkeys that beat him have no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs, or why they are participating in the beating of the newest monkey.

After replacing the fourth and fifth original monkeys, all the monkeys that have been sprayed with cold water have been replaced.

Nevertheless, no monkey ever again approaches the stairs.

Why not?

Because as far as they know that’s the way it’s always been around here.

And that’s why outdated company policy continues.


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30 thoughts on “Why Some Policies Don’t Make Sense

  1. Jamie says:

    This tale immediately reminded me of how new employees are inducted into the culture of the organization by longtime employees who want to keep them in their place. What a great illustration of this destructive dynamic!

  2. findingmyinnercourage says:

    Sad yet so true, Bravo to you, outstanding!

  3. And it takes a brave new leader to resist the beating, reach out at the banana and show all the the other monkeys that it is ok to do that now in today’s conditions.

  4. Martian Poet says:

    our forefather is ready to shoot!

  5. Bravo! Kudos! Standing Ovation!!

  6. Reblogged this on Movers, Shakers, Leadership Makers and commented:

  7. jamestollefson says:

    Awesome post.

    And I don’t know where you got that picture, but I love it.

  8. Rajiv says:

    heh!heh! this is brilliant! love it!

  9. Good post, good story.

  10. bpaddack says:

    What an entertaining way to make such a good point. Enjoyed it!

  11. I love this post – well written!

  12. Great post, love the picture!

  13. ednwokoye says:

    This has made me begin looking at a lot of things from a whole new perspective, and I bet a very revolutionary one. Thank you!

  14. I spent 33 years as teacher Miami Dade Schools. It is one of the most racist (anti white), full of cronyism, full of nepotism, full of sex for promotion and continues to be managed from the top down Any proposed innovation is destroyed by being considered disloyal and a trouble maker.

  15. […] Why Some Policies Don’t Make Sense by todaysmanager […]

  16. […] believes something, it must be true.  For a good illustration of this kind of thinking, check out this post.  If you understand this, however, you can be more objective and actually see things for what they […]

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