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Old 11 January 2010, 03:14 PM
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Mad Jay Mad Jay is offline
 
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Default Five monkeys and a ladder

I heard this from someone I know:

It's a story about an experiment with 5 monkeys. The 5 monkeys were kept in a cage with a ladder. Some bananas were kept on the top of the ladder. Whenever one of the monkeys would climb the ladder to get the bananas, all the monkeys were sprayed with ice cold water. Soon, the monkeys begin to police thmeselves, and would prevent any other monkey from climbing the ladder. Eventually, the cold water was turned off, but the monkeys kept policing themselves. Then, one monkey was removed, and another monkey put in it's place. Sure, the monkey didn't know about the forbidden bananas (must be rotten by now), so when it tried to get the banana, the other monkeys would stop him. Soon, the new monkey started policing the other monkeys too. Eventually, one by one all the monkeys were replaced in the group, but the monkeys kept policing themselves, even though none of the original monkeys weren't there and the reason for policing themselves was not existent


My question is is this a real experiment?
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  #2  
Old 11 January 2010, 03:22 PM
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rangerdog rangerdog is offline
 
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Five little monkeys jumping on the bed,
One fell off and bumped his head.
Mama called the Doctor and the Doctor said,
"No more monkeys jumping on the bed!"


Hey its all i got...
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  #3  
Old 11 January 2010, 03:25 PM
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llewtrah llewtrah is offline
 
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This came round on powerpoint slides a number of years back as part of presentations of process change/process improvement within businesses. It's my understanding that the monkeys story was a way of presenting "resistance to change" within businesses, not a description of an experiment.

The slides had a little more information. By the time none of the original monkeys were in the group, the reason the monkeys gave to a newcomer to not try for the bananas was "because we've always done it that way" which is the same reason given within companies for not changing their methods or processes.

It's a metaphor. The bananas represent change and the monkeys represented the factors obstructing change i.e. tradition/company culture (or whatever you want to call it). I don't know which company the metaphor came from (most likely process improvement consultants/business consultants).
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Old 11 January 2010, 03:30 PM
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Eddylizard Eddylizard is offline
 
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I've see this younks ago. It usually ends with something along the lines of and this is how corporate policy works - we do it this way because we've always done it this way. So I'm inclined to think it's allegorical.

ETA spanked.
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  #5  
Old 11 January 2010, 04:04 PM
FullMetal FullMetal is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rangerdog View Post
Five little monkeys jumping on the bed,
One fell off and bumped his head.
Mama called the Doctor and the Doctor said,
"No more monkeys jumping on the bed!"


Hey its all i got...
About this, I've heard an ending that not many people had heard... i don't know where it came from, but

no more monkeys jumping on the bed,
none to fall down and bump their head,
maybe they're sleeping, maybe they're dead
but there's no more monkeys jumping on the bed

I admit it's kind of morbid with the maybe they're dead bit... but it provides a distinct ending to the song...
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  #6  
Old 11 January 2010, 04:04 PM
jimmy101_again jimmy101_again is offline
 
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Change the story a bit and the moral changes completely.

No hose with cold water. The banana is poisonous and makes any monkey eating it violently ill.
The monkeys learn to not eat the banana. They'll try to keep other monkeys in their troop from eating the banana.
They pass this knowledge on to new monkeys brought into the cage as the old monkeys are slowly removed.
Even after all the original monkeys are removed the current monkeys are protected by the "we've always done it that way" mentality.

Businesses that use crappy allegories like this need new management. Preferably management that has a clue.
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  #7  
Old 11 January 2010, 04:07 PM
Nick Theodorakis Nick Theodorakis is offline
 
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Against all odds, wikianswers actually comes close to answering the question:

Quote:
Stephenson (1967) trained adult male and female rhesus monkeys to avoid manipulating an object and then placed individual na´ve animals in a cage with a trained individual of the same age and sex and the object in question. In on case, a trained male actually pulled his na´ve partner away from the previously punished manipulandum during their period of interaction, whereas the other two trained males exhibited what were described as "threat facial expressions while in a fear posture" when a na´ve animal approached the manipulandum. When placed alone in the cage with the novel object, na´ve males that had been paired with trained males showed greatly reduced manipulation of the training object in comparison with controls. Unfortunately, training and testing were not carried out using a discrimination procedure so the nature of the transmitted information cannot be determined, but the data are of considerable interest.

The article (book chapter, it seems, actually) by Galef is still a secondary reference and it's easy enough to find it or excerpts therefrom on googlebooks or elsewhere on the web. The Stephenson article that is referenced is the primary reference, but I haven't been able to locate it.

If the primary article supports the above reference, then it seems real-ish, with some story-telling embellishment added in.


Nick
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  #8  
Old 11 January 2010, 04:17 PM
Troodon Troodon is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmy101_again View Post
Change the story a bit and the moral changes completely.
That's what I was thinking too. The monkeys' stated behavior would make sense in a natural situation, and it is only counter-productive in a contrived, artificial scenario designed by curious scientists. Then the moral of the story is that if changing your business practices away from how it has always been done works out well for you, that means that you and your entire company are actually the unwitting subjects of an experiment.
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  #9  
Old 12 January 2010, 12:24 PM
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llewtrah llewtrah is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Troodon View Post
Then the moral of the story is that if changing your business practices away from how it has always been done works out well for you, that means that you and your entire company are actually the unwitting subjects of an experiment.
Using typewriters and carbon paper always worked well for us, but if we hadn't changed our processes to compete in a modern and ever-changing environment we'd be extinct.

There's a misconception tht process change is done for the sake of it and is bad. The whole point of the process change story is that processes need to keep pace with changes in technology, legislation, marketplace etc in order for a company to survive (and hopefully thrive). Companies that cling to traditional and outdated processes, however good the process might once have been, end up non-competitive and go out of business as a result.
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  #10  
Old 12 January 2010, 12:46 PM
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Richard W Richard W is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmy101_again View Post
Change the story a bit and the moral changes completely.
It also assumes the monkeys can't talk (although clearly the version Llewtrah heard assumes they can, because they can tell each other "We've always done it that way"). If they could talk, then they'd be able to pass on the reason as well. People can talk...
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  #11  
Old 12 January 2010, 01:05 PM
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llewtrah llewtrah is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard W View Post
It also assumes the monkeys can't talk (although clearly the version Llewtrah heard assumes they can, because they can tell each other "We've always done it that way"). If they could talk, then they'd be able to pass on the reason as well. People can talk...
That would be the version I saw - Powerpoint presentation, not oral anecdote.
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