“10 Hungry Monkeys,” A Story of Cultural Training
Ladder Leading to the Prize
As a sociological experiment, 10 monkeys were placed in a large cage. High up at the top of the cage, beyond the reach of the monkeys, were a bunch of bananas. Underneath the bananas was a ladder leading to the bananas.
The Shock before the Prize
The monkeys hadn’t been fed for 12 hours and were extremely hungry. The monkeys immediately spot the bananas and the strongest begins to climb the ladder. As he does, however, a slight electric shock keeps him from ascending the ladder. At the same time that the monkey climbing the ladder gets a shock, the other monkeys on the floor are sprayed with water. The monkey on the ladder scrambles off and all 10 hungry monkeys sit for a time on the floor.
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The new Monkey is introduced
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Why don’t the monkeys climb the ladder?
Are we the Monkeys?
This is a great story to show the impact of what we call “Cultural Training.” Often, a new employee is trained by another “experienced” employee; but not from a Known Standard, SOP, or Work Instruction. Usually the “Experienced” employee is expected to mentor and pass off years of experience in a short amount of time (usually days or even hours). The new employee is taught what the previous employee defined as “the standard.” The new employee, not remembering everything he is taught after the experienced employee leaves, has to survive by developing what he thinks is the Consists of input, value-add, and output.. Over time and generations of employees, the original “standard” morphs into something very different than the original “process.”
Do you have any interesting stories of “Cultural Training” in your organization? If you do, please add the story to the comments below.