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The Five Monkeys Experiment Perfectly Illustrates Our Resistance to Change

Sara Martinez

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Have you ever wondered why people do things for no good reason? Ever looked around and wondered how habits and obscure social norms formed? Have you ever asked the why of a norm or a practice and you were told: Because “this is the way things are done around here”?

The 5 monkeys experiment reminds ourselves to question why we perform certain behaviors.

The Banana Experiment

The metaphor and the lessons that apply to work are clear. Despite the exhortations from management to be innovative and collaborative, cold water is poured on people and their ideas whenever someone tries something new. Or, perhaps worse, the other employees suppress innovation, and learned helplessness spreads throughout the firm.

Why Do You Do, What You Do?

Have you ever been in an environment where things are done a certain way only because “…it’s always been done that way“…? Or, perhaps, are you leading that environment?

Moving the thought from the group to the individual: What things do you personally do primarily because that’s the way it was done before you? Could it be that that’s the way you were taught? Or, you’ve simply recreated the same performance environment you played in?

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