That’s the way it’s always been done around here

A well known psychology experiment started with five monkeys in a cage.  Inside the cage, a banana was hung on a string and a set of stairs was placed under the banana.   Before long, one monkey went to the stairs and started to climb towards the banana. But as soon as he placed one foot on the stairs, all of the monkeys were sprayed with cold water.

After a while, another monkey made an attempt with the same result –  all the monkeys are sprayed with cold water. After this action was repeated a third time with the same result, when the fourth monkey tried to climb the stairs all of the other monkeys tried to prevent it.

Then one monkey was removed from the cage and replaced with a new one and the cold water was stopped. The new monkey sees the banana and starts to climb the stairs but to his surprise all of the other monkeys attacked him.  After another attempt followed immediately by another attack, the newest monkey has learned his lesson and does not try again to climb the stairs.

A second of the original five monkeys is replaced with a new one. This newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked and the previous newcomer takes part in the punishment with enthusiasm.  Then the third original monkey is replaced with a new one, then the fourth and then the fifth. Every time the newest monkey takes to the stairs he is attacked.

At the end, the monkeys that are beating the newest addition have no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs or why they are participating in the beating of the newest monkey as none of the remaining monkeys have ever been sprayed with cold water.  Nevertheless, no monkey ever again approaches the stairs to try for the banana.

And that experiment proved the adage “that’s the way it’s always been done around here” and that is how most business decisions and company policies are made.

I believe that 2012 will be remembered as the start of the longest lasting period of growth and prosperity in the homebuilding industry.  But that potential can only be by achieved by builders and developers if we stop doing business the way it has “always been done” and specifically the way that it has been done for the past few years and enthusiastically embrace a new customer-centric attitude. 

For the past few years as homebuilders and residential developers struggled through the downturn, we cut back or eliminated many of the elements that are essential to successful implementation of this philosophy.  Now is the time that we must increase sales training, improve sales management, expand and continuously update our research, implement regular product development and refinement, and create an overall environment where the customer, so rare in the past few years, is totally blown away with the communities, the homes, and the homebuying process that we provide.

But that’s just my opinion.

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