The Monkey-Ladder Experiment

Have you ever encountered a confusing process or approach and wondered: Why do we do it that way?

If so, this one-minute video about an experiment involving monkeys, ladders, and raincoats is for you.

Like our monkey counterparts, we humans also have a tendency to stick to plans and rules that lost their relevance and utility long ago. But unlike monkeys, we have words that allow us to have rich discussions about the things that confuse us. If something doesn’t make sense to you, it’s possible you’re not the only one who is confused. The only way to know is to raise your hand and say, “I would love to better understand why we do it that way.”

You might be told, “That’s just the way it is.” If so, your logical response could be, “Got it. If that’s the case, could I take a stab at suggesting a few alternative approaches that might make us [safer / faster / stronger / more consistent / more productive / more efficient]?”

You can insert any positive change within the brackets. For best results, though, try to tie the positive change back to something you know the person or company values.

As you navigate work, I hope you’ll keep the lesson of the monkey-ladder experiment in mind. Sometimes the status quo exists for a reason—and sometimes it doesn’t. When you see an opportunity to provoke positive change in your environment, say something. Broach the topic with thoughtful questions, tangible solutions, and a generous spirit. It’s what good teammates do!

Have a great week,


This is Max’s note—a weekly message from Lessonly’s CEO about learning, leadership, and doing Better Work. Sign up below to subscribe via email. No spam, we promise!

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