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Monkey Business

I just read an article called the “100th Monkey” , about a primate study in Japan first published in the 70’s by Lyall Watson and later popularized by Ken Keyes Jr. It’s a curious story, or fable, or even study. But whatever its scientific value, the social meaning that came across was how change occurs and new ideas are passed along.

One point the story makes is; it is the younger generation that adopts new concepts first and that there is a clear line of learning (or lack there of) for older members of a tribe.

I see this in organizational development as well. In my coaching work, often times my senior clients are being asked to meet the younger team members of a company at their value mark. It is somewhat like the adage, “old dog, new tricks” and breaking the patterns of old behaviors based upon accepting new ideas that spring from the un-jaded experience of youth.

This is not to say that the wisdom of age and experience doesn’t have enormous value. It does and will remain the cornerstone of teaching and passing along the secrets of success. However, are we at times cloaked in our own habitual knowledge and blinded to new innovation?

Leadership requires the ability and desire to learn new methods and behaviors that reach everyone, which at times means a bottom – up approach to change. What can we learn from the wisdom of youth?  It could be as simple as washing the sand off a potato before we eat it.

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