Capturing the 100th monkey — achieving the magic of critical mass

canstockphoto0228650 (002) thinking monkey

In any change project, your people will unwittingly separate themselves into three reasonably distinct groups. You’ll have the early adopters, who enthusiastically support the change (hurrah!). You’ll have the large majority, who, with the right stimulus, are likely to adopt the change. And you’ll inevitably have the laggards, who will take a lot more convincing.

So where do you invest the most time? Using the parable of the ‘100th monkey effect’, it makes sense to put your efforts into rallying the large majority.

The hundredth monkey effect is a purported phenomenon in which a new behavior or idea is claimed to spread rapidly by unexplained means from one group to all related groups once a critical number of members of one group exhibit the new behavior or acknowledge the new idea.*

Your goal should be to get the support of enough people to push the project through to achieve critical mass. This critical mass eventually creates a ‘tipping point’— a shift in collective thinking, producing a business-as-usual effect that it is impossible to ignore.