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THE 100TH MONKEY EFFECT


What’s in a name?

Here’s one question we’re often asked: what’s your name all about?

Google the 100th Monkey effect and you’ll find aplenty. But put simply, we like to think of it as how an idea, a narrative, or a message becomes accepted as a truth.

That’s the headline. Read on for the detail.

The hundredth monkey phenomenon is a sociological theory. It dates back to a study in 1952 which followed the behaviour of a hungry young female monkey living in the wild on a Japanese island.

One day, no doubt fed up with the residual taste of grit in her mouth after mealtimes, she had a bright idea; she washed her dirt-encrusted potatoes in a stream before eating them. Her family watched on, curiously, then followed suit. Then her playmates. Then their families. One-by-one, this culture change spread.

But it was what scientists reportedly observed next that was remarkable. This new idea went from being an exception, a cult, when the 100th monkey copied the behaviour. Suddenly, overnight, every monkey on the island took it as the norm. It is what is now described as the point at which ‘critical mass’ had been reached … the tipping point for all other monkeys to follow suit.

The critical mass theory can be applied to almost every sociological change, big and small. And not just in terms of a numbers game. Why and how was it that drink driving finally became socially unacceptable? What were the messages that changed the public perception of smoking once and for all?

From a communications perspective, we can interpret this theory as being about how, as a leader and as an organisation, you take people with you, your messages and actions are heard, understood, and reciprocated. A key part of achieving a critical mass is that you must have a powerful vision and narrative – and that you must focus on both what you say, and how you say it, in order to persuade, to influence and to convince.

That’s what we give a monkeys about. And that’s how we support some of the leading figures and organisations in British public life.

Call us to see if we can help you.