Start with a cage containing five monkeys. Inside the cage,
hang a banana on a string and place 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 other monkeys with
cold water. After a while, another monkey makes an attempt with the same
result; all the other 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, put away 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 surprise and 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! Likewise, replace
a third original monkey with a new one, then a fourth, then the fifth.
Every time the newest monkey takes to the stairs, he is attacked. Most
of the monkeys that are beating him have no idea why they are not permitted
to climb the stairs or why they are participating in the beating of
the newest monkey.
After replacing all of the original monkeys, none of the remaining
monkeys have ever been sprayed with cold water. Nevertheless, no monkey
every again approaches the stairs to try for the banana. Why not? Because
as far as they know that's the way it's always been done around here.
And that, my friends, is how a company policy begins.