The banana experiment is back on the web (some say it’s a distorted version of the real experiment, but the metaphor is still brilliant and deserves to be told).
Here’s the story.
An American researcher carried out an experiment in the ’60s whose protagonists were 10 monkeys.
Initially, 5 monkeys are locked in a cage. There’s a ladder with a bunch of bananas on top. As soon as the monkeys see the bananas, the most enterprising climbs up the ladder to pick them up, but it’s immediately brought down by spraying a jet of icy water on her. The other four monkeys are also wetted with cold water.
After a moment of disorientation, another monkey goes up the ladder. And immediately she and her companions get wet.
Now here’s the better part: when the third monkey in turn ventures on the ladder to pick up the bananas, the others, not to be sprayed, pull her away abruptly from the ladder. And from this moment the 5 monkeys will no longer try to reach the bananas.
At this point, one of the 5 monkeys is taken out, and in its place a new one comes in, which has not seen anything of what has happened so far. As soon as she sees the bananas, the monkey goes to climb the ladder, but the other four monkeys who had seen the previous phase force her to descend, beating her down. Given the reaction of her companions, she too renounces the banana even though she has never been wet, and without understanding why she cannot do so.
Another monkey of the original 5 is brought out, and a new one enters. At this moment, therefore, in the cage there are 3 monkeys that have undergone the cy sprays, and 2 that have not suffered them.
The second new monkey, obviously, tries to catch the banana. And as happened before, there is no need for any dissuader jet, because the other monkeys prevent it, including the one that arrived before her, who has never been wet but has been forced to desist from the abrupt intervention of the other monkeys.
The procedure of progressive replacement of the monkeys goes on another 3 times, until in the cage there are only monkeys that have never been sprayed with water. The newcomer naturally tries to catch the bananas, but all the others prevent her from doing so even though no one knows the real reason for the ban.
The researcher says that the last monkey to arrive seemed to want to understand the reason why it was forbidden to eat bananas, and that the other monkeys looked to each other as if they were looking for the answer. The problem is that none of the monkeys present knew her, because none of them had been punished with cold water: instead, the group had handed down the ban.
In practice, a new rule had been passed on to the next generation, but its motivations had disappeared with the disappearance of the group that had learned it.
If it had been possible to ask the monkeys why they beat their companions trying to climb the ladder, the answer would probably have been the classic…
it’s always been like that…
Often the company’s choices are only the result of customs that are repeated because we have seen doing so over the years, but without knowing why.
And often companies limit themselves and do not try new roads just because … it has always been done like that …
Even the acquisition of new customers can be done “as has always been done”, without knowing why, obtaining the usual results or increasingly poor results. Or you can do it in an innovative way, taking new paths adapted to current times.
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