Scientists placed 5 monkeys in a cage and hung a bunch of bananas from the ceiling. Positioned underneath the bananas was a ladder. The alpha monkey, seeing the bananas, immediately climbed the ladder to fetch the bananas which triggered the Scientists to soak the Alpha monkey and the other 4 monkeys with cold water. After warming up, the monkey tried to fetch the bananas and again the same process repeated where all of the monkeys were soaked with cold water. After a number of unsuccessful attempts, the monkeys abandoned the idea of climbing the ladder to fetch bananas and sat quietly in the cage looking at the bananas not daring to climb the ladder.

At this point, one monkey was removed from the cage and a new monkey was introduced into the cage. The new monkey, seeing the bananas, started climbing the ladder. But before the monkey could proceed up the ladder, the rest of the group of angry monkeys proceeded to drag him down and beat him. The scientists removed another monkey from the first set of monkeys and introduce another new monkey. The new monkey attempted to fetch the bananas and faced the same fate, the 3 original monkeys and even the newer monkey beat him. The same process repeated as each of the other 3 original monkeys were removed one by one and replaced with a new monkey. At the end of the process, there were 5 monkeys sitting in the cage staring at the bananas however none attempt to fetch any. A great video about this story was presented very eloquently by the business educator Eddie Obeng in:

The take away from this story is that one must challenge the status quo when something appears unreasonable, incorrect, not in the right place and/or does not feel right. To move forward from the current phase of a company state to a new state (a product, sales process, business process, etc.), one must question why things are being done the way they are and request answers until they are satisfied that it is the best way to move the company forward (the same is also applicable to an individual).

Stay tuned for more of the guiding principles and anecdotes that have directed me through my career of growing startups through to successful ventures.


Written by

Eli Fathi

Eli has been a technology entrepreneur for the past 30 years and has founded or cofounded a number of companies with a few successful exits. Currently, he is the CEO of a company offering automated fraud detection platform. Eli was the cofounder of Fluidware Corporation, an Internet software company offering Software as a service (SaaS) online applications based on collaborative feedback. He was the co-CEO from inception until the acquisition by SurveyMonkey.

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