Monkey & The Fish Parable

I recently learnt about this african parable, The Monkey & The Fish. It helps to put into perspective and understanding how two different cultures can view the essentials of life and how an action from another culture can be destructive.

A typhoon stranded a monkey on an island. In a protected place on the shore, while waiting for the raging waters to recede, he spotted a fish swimming against the current. It seemed to the monkey that the fish was struggling and needed assistance.

Being of kind heart, the monkey resolved to help the fish. At considerable risk to himself, the monkey moved far out on the precarious limb of a tree, reached down, and snatched the fish from the waters. Scurrying back to the safety of his shelter, he carefully laid the fish on dry ground.

For a few moments, the fish showed excitement but soon settled into a peaceful rest.

— As re-told by Dale Fisher

Beyond this parable, there are numerous accounts of how this occurs – From colonisation, relief work and plans to alleviate social issues in places we are unfamiliar with.

In Innovation practices, we often create things with our perspectives and mindsets. We fail to observe to fully understand and send the problem at hand. Hence, being mindful of who we are and those we want to help is important – Not only in social innovation but even in companies that provide products and services.


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