3 Monkeys: How Organizational Culture is Formed

When I hear about culture issues from executives I always relate a favorite anecdote about how organizational culture is formed. There are three monkeys standing in line in a cage, and above the third monkey there is a bunch of bananas. The third monkey naturally reaches for the sweet treats, and as he takes one, the other two monkeys are drenched with water. So they immediately start at the third monkey who is busily munching on his favorite food. But he doesn.t realize what.s happening, so he reaches for another banana and the other two are deluged. By the time the third monkey has eaten the bunch of bananas, the other two are quite annoyed. So in steps the scientist, and replaces the third monkey with a new monkey. He espies the bananas and as he stretches out his arm, he is attacked by the other two monkey. The new monkey doesn.t quite understand why, but quickly stops going after the bananas. Some time passes and the scientist comes back and takes one of the drenched monkeys and replaces him. This new monkey again goes for the bananas and the other two attack him. Then the scientist replaces the third of the original monkeys, with a new one. This new monkey is immediately attacked, and has no idea why. Even when the banana/water system is disabled, and another monkey introduced, he is attacked immediately. And if the scientist keeps repeating the experiment, the two monkeys in the cage attack the new ape being introduced, though nobody can remember why, its just the way it is.

Source: five ways to develop your corporate culture by Naomi Moneypenny / ManyWorlds

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