The Fine Art of Monkey Chucking, Part 2

The Fine Art of Monkey Chucking, Part 2


By Joel Lund

4 Rules for Monkey Management Avoids Monkey Chucking

Last time we looked at what “monkey chucking” means in a business environment (or anywhere else that people congregate). We saw that there are often serious consequences to uncontrolled, flying monkeys, within the confines of human interaction. Today we look at containment rules–presented in the first person, from the vantage point of the leader/manager–as established by the authors of The One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey.

   RULE ONE: Monkey DescriptionsFlying monkey

  • The “next moves” are specified
  • Dialogue continues until the next moves are specified
  • This biases any situation towards action
  • It quadruples motivation because
    1. Next move is clear
    2. The first (usually the hardest) is already taken
    3. Project is broken down to manageable bits
    4. Focus can easily switch to next moves

   RULE TWO: Monkey Owners

  • The monkey is assigned to someone
  • All monkeys must be handled at the lowest organizational level consistent with their welfare
  • The best way to develop responsibility in people is to give them responsibility
  • Dialogue will not end until ownership is specified with accurate pronouns describing to whom the problem belongs
  • If it turns out to be my problem, I hope you will assist me with it. If it turns out to be yours, I’ll help you with it, on these conditions:
    • ­At no time will your problem become mine
    • ­Because the moment your problem becomes mine, it’s not your problem anymore
    • ­I can’t help a person who doesn’t have a problem

   RULE THREE: Monkey Insurance Policies

  • The monkey’s risk is insured
    1. Recommend, then act.  [Level 1]
    2. Act, then advise.  [Level 2]
  • Practice hands-off management as much as possible and hands-on management as much as necessary
  • Never let the company go down the drain simply for the sake of good management.

   RULE FOUR: Monkey Feeding & Checkups

  • Time and place for checkup is specified
    1. Dialogue will not end until checkup appt. is set
    2. Regular checkups confirm monkey’s health or detect problems to correct
  • Two important assumptions:
    1. You’ll treat your sick monkey as best you can, but if the monkey’s condition persists or worsens from not responding to your treatment plan, you will bring your monkey to me for a checkup before all vital signs vanish
    2. If we’d agreed to a progress checkup several weeks hence, and I discover or determine your monkey’s malady is worsening, I will move the meeting up to 24 hours…
  • Two important options result:
    1. You’ll report that “My monkey is failing due to my doing nothing.”
    2. You’ll report that “My monkey is improving! Here’s what I’m doing….”

The Purpose of the 4 Rules: Decrease Monkey Chucking

The right things get done

the right way

at the right time

by the right people.


What has been your experience with monkey chucking? Have you found yourself with someone else’s monkey lingering on your shoulder, wondering how it came to be your problem?

Engage here.

The Fine Art of Monkey Chucking

The Fine Art of Monkey Chucking

By Joel Lund

When Your Business Is Like A Barrel of Monkeys

In the great leadership book, The One Minute Manager Meets the Monkeythe authors (Kenneth Blanchard, William Oncken, Jr., and Hal Burrows) discuss the business of managing the monkeys of business. Anyone in a leadership position should read this work because the truisms contained within are timeless and applicable far beyond the business world.

Foundational Principles of Monkey Chucking

Because the book lands on the business shelves at the local bookstore and library, lets lay things out as the authors intended. Even in a small business operation, it’s common to have various “players” within the organization. Some are leaders. Some are followers. Each has a role. Each role needs to be executed well for the business to thrive.

And here is the rub: not all players willingly engage in their role. At least, not consistently. Dealing with that familiar conundrum is what “monkey chucking” is all about. There are principles related to the fine art of monkey chucking:

  1. It’s tough to work for a nervous boss, especially if you are the one who’s making your boss nervous.
  2. A “monkey” is the next move.
  3. For every monkey there are two (2) parties involved: one to work it & one to supervise it
  4. Things not worth doing are…not worth doing well.

Monkey Co-Dependency Looks Like This:

Besides the principles of monkey chucking, there are behaviors to deal with. It is at this crux point that things can go awry and “getting things done” takes a dive into a barrel of monkeys. Monkey co-dependent behaviors follow a pattern.

  • You hapesave a problem. You express the problem to your manager, who promises to help you with the problem.
  • The monkey is the next move…
  • When your manager, who promised to help you – rescues you from the problem – your problem is solved!
  • But now there is a new problem:
    • You have given yourself this message: “I’m not capable of handling this problem so I’d better have someone else take care of it.”
    • The rescuer has given you this message: “You’re not capable of handling this problem so I’d better take care of it for you.”

A Paradigm Shift

Experience is not what happens to you; it’s what you do with what happens to you.

So that everyone in an organization doesn’t act like a crazed monkey ever again, new patterns must emerge. A new paradigm needs to be installed.

Next time, the 4 Rules of Monkey Management

Have you ever been the one chucking the monkey? How about the one catching the monkey? Describe your experience.

Engage here.

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