Looking for Monkey Pile Stories

Monkey pile

When I was a kid, the boys created monkey piles for fun. It was a simple, albeit kind of pointless activity. I don’t remember why we did it. I only remember how it worked. Out of the blue, someone would shout “Monkey pile on Tom.” On command everybody would pile on top of me. Not sure why this was fun, I just know it happened. I also remember it being way better to be near the top of the pile rather than the person on the bottom.

Pay attention and you’ll see these monkey piles formed by adults too. Watch the winning team at the end of a major sports championship. The game ends and the pile forms. When I see them in hockey and baseball I can’t help wonder if any players remember they are wearing sharp spikes or blades on their feet. It wouldn’t matter if they did. The monkey pile must happen. Nobody will be able to contain it.

Think about why they happen. Three conditions must be present for a monkey pile to form.

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  • Major team-based accomplishment.
  • Great difficulty to achieve.
  • People on the team genuinely like each other.

These apply in sports, but could just as easily apply to work. So when’s the last time you had a monkey pile in your workplace? I know, there’s probably some HR policy that prohibits jumping on coworkers. Then let’s change the question. When’s the last time your team accomplished something so cool that you would like to have had a monkey pile, but instead did something a little more acceptable?

Run of the mill teams don’t have monkey piles. Amazing teams might. They aren’t common, but they happen. How about on one of your teams. Any monkey pile stories? If you have one, share it in the comments. Tell us what led to the pile and in what HR-friendly manner you expressed your joy.

Image credit: digitalART2

By Tom LaForce

Tom LaForce helps companies change by creating stronger teams, more effective leaders, and better processes. To discuss a challenge you're facing, use this link to schedule a free discovery call.