The Monkey Trap – With becoming so obsessed with ‘doing’, have we forgotten to make time for adaptive ‘change’?

Change, we must. But can we really? - Reputation Today

We’ve all seen the Monkey Trap. Hunters in the bush place a piece of fruit in a vase. The monkey reaches in and grabs the fruit but can’t remove it’s hand with the fruit in its grip. Rather than release the fruit and move on the monkey just sits their becoming increasingly vulnerable to attack and capture. (These vases are set in cement so they can’t run off with the vase).

In this situation the monkeys obsession to eat the fruit is singularly overwhelming.

The word obsession is key here because there are thousands in hospitality that race into work daily because they love what they do, and are so obsessed with their work that they tend to get stuck so much in the ‘doing’ that the thought of stopping what they’re doing to consider a less obsessive way of getting the job done in a simpler way becomes almost impossible.

The downside to this approach often creates a cascade of self denial and a dillusion that there can’t be change for the better, more money can’t be taken for less effort, and staff can’t be happier than where they are now with what they’ve got. Many leaders in this situation tend to justify their stuck position by introducing micro changes to satisfy a sense of entitled empowerment, though the net result is that nothing significant actually changes. The monkeys hand is still in the jar.

It’s no surprise that there are a range of similar metaphors that capture the essence of this problem. Whether it’s the hungry juggler that won’t stop juggling to eat, or the leopard that pretends to be something else but can never change its spots.

It takes strength, leadership, courage and a deep breath of determination to make big changes and I’m privileged to work with such people.

The many polls that are posted on LinkedIn demonstrate a strong mood for change in our industry, but who’s going to let go of that fruit in the vase? Who are the leaders who need change support?

There is a misconception that leadership and ownership have an automatic right to success, often based around the concept of ‘it’s my way or the highway’! Success requires constant checks, balances and changes to take place to fully optimise the chances of demonstrable, measureable success.

If you’re looking for support in your hospitality business but you don’t know the right direction to move, get in touch.

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