Five monkey are sitting in a cage and snaring at a pile of bananas. As an experiment, whenever these monkeys try to climb the steps to obtain the bananas, they are blasted with cold water. This first does not stop the monkeys, so they try again, only to be greeted with another shower blast. However, after a few failed efforts, they realise there is no use in attempting to obtain the forbidden fruit and begin to ignore the bananas.
The water hose is removed at this point, and one of the original monkeys is replaced with a new monkey. When the new money sees the bananas, it starts climbing up, but the other monkeys, being social beings who don't want their companion to get wet, pull it down before it gets soaked. The new monkey is scared, looks around, and tries to climb the ladder repeatedly, only to be yanked back.
Finally, the new monkey accepts the group's code of behaviour and opts out of the banana hunt.
Over the next few days, a second monkey replaces one of the old monkeys, followed by the third, fourth, and fifth original monkeys being replaced by new monkeys who have never seen the water blasts. With perfectly ripe bananas dangling over and five new monkeys that had never seen a jet of water, no one tries to reach the bananas towards the end of the trial. They have all picked up on an unspoken rule: "You don't grab the bananas around here."
The preceding example exemplifies why any type of organisational reform is challenging. The sum of an organization's fundamental beliefs, assumptions, values, and ways of engaging with one another is its culture. All four of these factors are affected and anchored in previous practises. Even when prior practises are no longer relevant or optimal, they become embedded, causing the organisation to lose its market and external environment alignment.
Companies like Kodak, Nokia, Xerox (PC), Yahoo, Blackberry, Polaroid, Toshiba, and Motorola are ideal instances of companies that have been unable to break free from the restraints of the past. Become the architect of your own future instead of being a prisoner of your past.
“I am not what occurred to me, I am what I choose to become,” Carl Jung, the pioneer of analytical psychology and a Swiss physician and psychoanalyst, famously said.
The most significant impediment to successful changes is the need to change mindsets. The trick is to make both an individual and institutional transition at the same time.