The Monkey Experiment and Edgar Schein

April 2, 2014.  A reader brought to my attention that the research cited in this post is suspect.  After a little digging, it appears that the story originated in a credible business book, “Competing for the Future” by Gary Hamel and C. K. Prahalad.  One writer went so far as to contact Hamel’s office to obtain the actual research cited in the book, and apparently received a brush off.  So while this makes a good story to support theories on organizational culture, perhaps it should merely be taken as that – a good story.  But…I have seen the behavior in 30-some years of corporate work and the message is sound.

One of many “funny” emails floating around the internet contained the story of the monkey, banana and water spray experiment.  I was pretty sure it was true (because I’ve seen it happen – but not with monkeys), but I wanted to source it anyway.

So I went to to check it out (see the story below).  Indeed, the experiment took place in 1967 and has been a standard in psychology to explain “mob behavior“.

But let’s take it to the topic of organizational culture. Edgar Schein talks about the “unconscious, taken-for-granted beliefs, perceptions, thoughts and feelings.  (more…)

Change through the eyes of Jillian Michaels

I have said before that Jillian Michaels is an evil woman.  I say that because I’ve been trying to conquer her Level 1 30-day Shred for weeks now and the jumping jacks get me every time!

For some reason today, I was listening more closely to her words as she was “motivating” her TV audience, and something clicked that her advice is a lot like organizational change theory. (more…)

“Downton Abbey” – a backdrop for organizational change theory

The creator of Downton Abbey certainly picked a historical era of major change for his show….post-World War I England.  In three short seasons, he has demonstrated the overwhelming changes facing the aristocracy (and actually everyone) as post-war England begins a long journey of equalizing people and opportunity. [My apologies to those who don’t know this TV show; but suggest you watch it – it’s REALLY good] (more…)