Learning From Monkeys

While browsing YouTube diligently working, I stumbled upon a video showing how to open a banana like a monkey. I like bananas, and who doesn’t like monkeys, so I gave it a watch. Turns out, I’ve been opening bananas the wrong way my entire life.

Basically, for those of you who haven’t seen it, it shows how a typical person opens a banana using the stem. As we all know sometimes this method works just fine and sometimes the stem is tough and we have to struggle a bit to peel it, smashing the top of our banana in the meantime.

A monkey, meanwhile, simply pinches the other end of the banana, which causes a split in the banana peel, and then smoothly peels the banana. It works amazingly well.

What’s the point? The point is, this morning I thought I knew all there was to know about peeling bananas. I would never have expected that there was a better, more efficient technique I could be using. I was very confident that my method was the best one out there.

How many times do we take that approach with our design or development skills? We assume we know all we need to know about a topic, so instead of continually experimenting and reanalyzing our techniques, we plod along confident that our current method of work is the best. Even if there is a better way, we certainly wouldn’t find it by reading that book or that blog.

Meanwhile, there’s a better way out there. It might be only a minor improvement, or it might be something that completely alters the way we work. We won’t know it though, unless we continue to question our knowledge and show a consistent desire to improve. Sometimes, no matter how much we think we know, we can learn from even the most unlikely sources.