Why Six Gorillas

Imagine a cage in which six gorillas are housed. Each gorilla is fitted with an electric collar.

In the middle of the cage is a ladder. At the top of the ladder there is a banana suspended from a rope.

The cage is set up so that when any gorilla climbs the ladder to try and get the banana ALL the gorillas get an electric shock from the collars. Pretty soon the gorillas figure out that it is not a good idea to climb the ladder.

Now imagine that we replace one of the gorillas with a new gorilla who does not have a collar. As soon as the new gorilla tries to climb the ladder to get the banana the other gorillas attack him and stop him climbing the ladder. After a while the new gorilla learns that it is not a good idea to climb the ladder.

One by one we replace all six of the original gorillas. We now have a group of six gorillas, none of whom have ever had a collar, who don’t try and climb the ladder because, “that’s how it has always been!”

Even though the reason for the behaviour has long gone the behaviour of the six gorillas remains the same!

Once upon a time, there may have been very good reasons for many of the things we do, or don’t do.   But, maybe, it’s time we tried to climb the ladder!

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