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Who Moved My Cheese? – Dr Spencer Johnson

This parable in the similar format as his other best seller, The One Minute Manager.  Whilst I had been a little sceptical about buying this book – I did find it in Oxfam for £1.99 and now felt that it was worth the investment risk!  ;0)

I have read some very interesting stuff on managing change but what I did like about this parable is that it is: – a parable.  Therefore it gives the inherent problems with change; denial, resistance, dissatisfaction and action; a whimsical language and point of reference for groups of people facing such a challenge.

There are three parts to the book; a preamble where a school reunion takes place, the telling of the parable itself, then the evaluation of the same with each member applying the learning points to different scenarios.  Whilst it might be tempting to skip the last part – stay with it.  It is the most valuable – at least for pragmatists like me.

There are four characters in the parable; Sniff, Scurry, Hem and Haw.  Each takes one of the combinations of being ready/not ready and willing/not willing.  Able doesn’t seem to come into it as those who are both ready and willing will overcome ability obstacles.

All four find themselves happily at Cheese Station 3, a prosperous location within a Maze with a seemingly endless Cheese ‘source’.  It is worth noting, here, that ‘Cheese’ is the collective given to all things that you want in (and out of) your life.   Alas the Cheese runs out at Cheese Station 3 and the story continues with the adventures of:

Sniff (bold and adventurous ready to sniff out the next ‘Choice’ Cheese Station)

  • Scurry (action orientated and results driven who follows Sniff’s lead)
  • Hem (the critical thinker whose capacity for concern and control overrides his need for new Cheese)
  • Haw (hesitant, yet realistic and sensible who heads out leaving a path for others to follow)

Key learning points:  Dissatisfaction: what do you need to let go of?  Vision: what do you need to move on to?  These are two of three items I think you need to consider when dealing with change; the third is to determine the first steps you need to take to move you towards your vision.


Other key learning points that come up are:

What would you do if you weren’t afraid?  Every Cheese has a shelf life!  You can move your own Cheese! Old Cheese could well be old behaviours rather than old situations. Get the right peer pressure prevalent then no one will want to look like Hem!

And now a dilemma.  Do I send you off to a highly amusing skit by John Cheese (ops sorry Cleese) albeit very old, a bit too long, but still funny.

Or do I send you off to a really cheesy après Ski song – Say Cheese!

Tell you what?  You cheese! (Ops, sorry I mean choose!)


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