04 Mar

Turn and Face the Strange ch- ch- ch- ch Changes – David Bowie


Whenever I think of Change Management I hear the song “Changes” and know we must turn and face the change…accept the challenge, look for the new opportunities that always come with change and then create some awesome solutions and plans to move ahead.      Ch-ch-ch-ch changes…Time may change me…and time does change all of us, it is up to us how we accept the changes to make sure we use them to our advantage.     Some people believe you need to change your business model every two years so you don’t get complacent, bored while others get in a rut when they don’t face changes and challenges.  We can instigate change, be in control of it and not be the victim of change.. As we all know … If nothing changes, nothing changes…so why should we want change and how do we manage it. Managing change is the “speak” of the corporate world…I wonder what it was called before? (maybe continuous improvement?) Managing change, managing time, managing people, managing results, managing projects…in actual fact it is all about the people, the management and not so much the change.  “To improve is to change, to be perfect is to change often”…Winston Churchill.”

I want to share a story with you that we so often see happen in the business world.

I refer to five monkeys and their attempt to get at a bundle of bananas. Here is a simple version of the experiment:

Researchers created a comfortable habitat for five monkeys, in order to do an experiment. When the monkeys had adapted to their new habitat and had forged some relationships, a bundle of bananas was presented to them, a treat they rarely had received. To get to the bananas, the monkeys would need to climb to the top of some steps.

The bananas were placed on the top step, and all five monkeys began to climb the steps to get them. Once all of the monkeys were on the steps, they were sprayed with ice-cold water, which frightened them and they hated getting wet.  This happened every time they tried to get the bananas, so eventually they gave up trying.

They then placed a  new monkey in the habitat and one or the  original monkeys was removed … The new monkey saw the bananas and instinctively he made for the steps, and the other monkeys threatened and shrieked at him and he eventually gave up trying.

A second monkey was then placed in the habitat and another of the original monkeys was removed. They threatened the 2nd new monkey as she tried to get to bananas and It was interesting to see that the first new monkey joined in even though he had never been sprayed with water.  The same phenomenon was observed as they replaced the third and fourth and fifth monkey.

Now none of these monkeys living in the habitat had ever been punished with cold water for climbing up the steps. Yet as the 5th new monkey made a dash for the steps the other four, as before, screamed and threatened her until she gave up.

So, the conclusion is that in the end, the monkeys were upholding a social norm that they no longer connected to a logical consequence.

Some people also resist change and I wonder what the outcome would be if they didn’t play one of these parts as above.  Do you sometimes act like these monkeys or are you happy to see what change could bring if only you let it? Change is ultimately all about people- if they don’t change then nothing significant changes, being able to let go will allow you to experience what happens one change at a time, one moment at a time and one day at a time. This is where true Change Management works best.  When change is embraced and you are the navigator of change it will create a healthier, happier workplace culture.

About Catherine Molloy
Catherine Molloy is the owner of Auspac Business Advantage Pty Ltd. Catherine has been awarded two International Stevie Awards, one for Education and Customer Service and one for Product Innovation as well as an Australian Institute of Management Regional Excellence Awards for owner/manager of the year. Catherine has over 25 years expertise in the delivery of services. sales, leadership and management training.

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