Who loves red monkeys? (survey)

In his work on organizational innovation, @JefStaes talks uses the analogy of red monkeys to describe a new idea. These 2 blog posts outline that idea and deliver results of my recent online survey of 71 people to see who loves red monkeys themselves, in their teams and in their organisations…

I suggest you read the supporting theory first – follow this link.

For a related blog post on how leaders can help bring change to the organisation, check this link.


In my survey, I asked people to choose between sets of phrases that describe either the Creator, Pioneer, Follower or Settler change personality. I asked them to choose what best suits themselves, their team/department/close colleagues and their company from the following:

  • I love change! I tend to create change and new ideas myself. When faced with new ideas, I brainstorm to create even more. I throw new ideas and change into the organisation with enthusiasm.
  • I am open to change and take it seriously. When people come to me with new ideas or initiatives, I will help them to test the idea to see how it can work. If it does work, we can introduce it into the organisation.
  • I don’t really like change and new ways of working. I don’t come up with ideas myself. But if its best for me, I’ll do it. Just show me good examples and proof and I’ll do what needs to be done.
  • I am against change. I don’t like changing things, or new ideas. Things would be best if they just continued the same way. Don’t come to me with new ideas!


When dealing with this model in training (in the wider context of introducing change management), we first learn about the red monkey model, then I ask: Which do you think you are most like, your team and your company? Almost every time in training, I get a distribution like this:

…and I would have bet money on the survey giving the same results (fortunately, no-one offered to bet!)

My explanation of these results is something as follows:

  • People like to think of themselves as more creative than they actually probably are
  • No-one wants to think of themselves as anti-change, as a settler
  • People imagine their company to be slow with change, overly bureaucratic and not open to new suggestions. Note that I tend to work for a lot of large corporations and I suspect this could be different if I worked with smaller less structured organisations.
  • There is a mentality of “us against them” in many companies – this leads to the idea that “they” stifle “us”


In my online survey of the 4th November 2011, the 71 results I got give the following impression when stuck on to the red monkey model:

What do I think of these results?

  • I didn’t see the major “my company is a settler” view I expected (good news in my opinion)
  • Maybe asking the question without training/learning doesn’t give people the same feeling of the model as in a training room
  • Individuals still rate themselves quite creative and open to change
  • ..and more so than other people in their organisation


According to @JefStaes the Creators and the Pioneers make up only about 10% of the population. If we imagine my survey respondents (“ME”) to be “the population” of an organisation then we have no followers! This could make for an extremely (read “overly”) dynamic organisational culture!

What are my thoughts on this?

  1. Maybe by chance the people who took the survey are actually part of the 10% in their own organisation
  2. Since I asked via Twitter, maybe I didn’t get so many “Followers” and “Settlers” answering – they are not on the Twitter train yet..
  3. Or, as I already noted: People tend to “mark themselves up” as more creative or pioneering


I’m glad people rate themselves as creative and open to change. I only add (rather cynically, I admit) the following paradox:

  • If you ask me if I’m honest, I’ll say “yes”
  • If you ask me if other people are honest, I’ll say “not always”
  • Everyone replies the same to these 2 questions
  • …but I don’t believe everyone is honest
  • ..but I still say I am! 🙂


Please leave me a comment if you read, took part or enjoyed this survey. Ienjoyed it a lot, but I don’t pretend to know everything here – I’m interested to keep on learning and would love your feedback. I’ve added to the comments myself with 2 email replies already received over the weekend…

For a related blog post on how leaders can help bring change to the organisation, check this link



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Published by Dan Steer

Wandering corporate trainer, learning and development consultant, conference speaker and professional El-Magico. I help people get better at stuff by creating and facilitating Infinite Learning © opportunities. The world would be a better place if everyone was doing what he loved and doing it well. I am working to bring out the "El Magico" in everybody. Training in presentation and communication skills, leadership, social media for learning and marketing, learning and development management + personal effectiveness.

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  1. Magali (Epsilon Group, LinkedIn) says:

    It is amazing how you realise with three simple questions the possible gap between your organisation/your team and yourself. Obviously better if all three have a clear match I guess for the ‘cultural homogeneity’ even though I am deeply convinced great leaders are born out of their new creative ideas and think-out-of-the-box behaviour.

  2. Hi Dan,
    I think that part of the result might also be influenced by the way you phrase the different options: if you would put “I like to consolidate. You can rely on me for high-quality work with deep understanding of what I do”, instead of “I’m against…”, “Don’t come to me with…”, you might get a totally different result, no?
    Kind regards,

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