When it comes to change, are you the monkey or the banana?

It may seem a silly question, but this urban legend of five monkeys and a banana could relate to how projects are run within your business today.

Often when people join a company, they are full of new ideas to grow and develop the business. But more often than not, they are met with that age old saying of; “We’ve always done it this way round here” and run up against a brick wall.

Rules, regulations, processes and project team culture can often stop newcomers from transforming the business or implementing change. Read how the five monkeys and banana legend could relate to your business:


“Start with a cage containing five monkeys. In the cage, hang a banana on a string and put 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 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 that’s the way it’s always been done around here. And that . . . dear reader . . . is how project team culture begins.”

Source: Learning Tree

Implementing change within a business or project can be a daunting and tough process to follow through with. Melanie Franklin’s book on Managing Business Transformation shows how change can bring improved efficiency, increased productivity and greater profitability whilst showing you how to implement them.

Franklin guides you through the stages of change management, as well as discussing how to build an effective change team and obtaining the buy-in of your staff. Buy your copy today of Managing Business Transformation >>

So next time someone on your team refuses to do things differently without knowing its purpose, remember the story of the five monkeys and the banana.