Sunday, May 17, 2009

Who Moved My Cheese?

Dear Readers,
There are a few books I love reading time and again. Who Moved My Cheese?, is one such book.
Here is my review.
Happy reading. Do pick up this book, in case you haven't read it.

Book Review:
Reviewed by: Lubna Kably, Chartered Accountant

Title: Who Moved My Cheese?
Author: Dr Spencer Johnson
Price: INR 100 to 150 (approximately)
Publication: Random House (Vermillion), UK
Official website:

So there I was standing on the edge, my toes involuntary curling inwards with fear, my stomach churning. What was I doing on the edge? And I mean the edge, in every physical sense of the word – the edge of a platform atop a tower fourteen stories high at Surfers’ Paradise, Brisbane. The wind whipped my pony tail in rebellion, as I stood there and shivered.

The jump master, after having harnessed me, stood there patiently. I wanted him to push me off the ledge so that I would not have to decide. This he would not do. It was entirely my call. My call for a shot of adrenalin – Bungee Jumping! I experienced this shot of adrenalin, years and years ago, but remember this incident as vividly as if it were just yesterday.

There are occasions in life, which call for a decision and for making that jump and yes, ones’ toes will curl inwards. But jump we must (or search in the maze), because the ‘Cheese’ is moving and we have no other choice but to move and to find new Cheese.

In these days of an economic slowdown, of quick and rapid changes in policies the world over that have an impact on business operations and on employment, of changing client needs, or for that matter employee needs, employer needs and our own needs, it is important to anticipate, recognise, and understand change.

Who Moved My Cheese? is one such book, which will help you to move with the Cheese and enjoy the new Cheese.

As its official website says: “It is the story of four characters living in a “Maze” who face unexpected change when they discover their “Cheese” has disappeared. Sniff and Scurry, who are mice, and Hem and Haw, little people the size of mice, each adapt to change in their “Maze” differently. In fact, Hem doesn't adapt at all...”
“This timeless allegory reveals profound truths to individuals and organisations dealing with change. We each live in a “Maze”, a metaphor for the companies or organisations we work with, the communities we live in, the families we love places where we look for the things we want in life – “Cheese”. It may be an enjoyable career, loving relationships, wealth, or spiritual peace of mind. With time and experience, one character eventually succeeds and even prospers from the change in his “Maze”.

In an effort to share what he has learned along the way, he records his personal discoveries on the maze walls, the “Handwriting on the Wall”. Likewise, when we begin to see the “writing on the wall”, we discover the simplicity and necessity of adapting to change." This book helps one to learn how to deal with inevitable change.

Let us now move on with the book review. The book begins by describing how a group of former classmates at a reunion enter into a conversation around how the world has changed since they were at school together. It is at this point that one of the group tells the story of “Who Moved My Cheese?”

The mice are named Sniff and Scurry. Sniff sniffs out changes early and Scurry scurries into action. The two little men are Hem and Haw. Sniff and Scurry soon notice changes in their environment. Hem and Haw, however, take the cheese for granted. Gradually the cheese begins to dwindle. Sniff and Scurry are not concerned. They see that the Cheese is not going to last forever so with their running shoes on, they get off to a flying start in search of new Cheese.

As Cheese stocks continue to dwindle, both Hem and Haw, one day find themselves with no Cheese, they are shocked and bewildered. Both throw a fit. However, Hem thinks Cheese is his birthright. He denies and resists change because he fears that something worse will happen if he steps out of the “Maze”, his very own comfort zone. He continues to hope that the Cheese will come back. Alas it will not.

Haw learns to adapt in time when he sees that change has to be dealt with and can lead to something better, if one makes such an attempt. As Haw, leaving his friend Hem behind goes in search of new Cheese, he learns new truths and leaves notes on the wall of the maze hoping that Haw will follow and find them.

The truth or “The handwriting on the wall” are:

* Change happens: They keep moving the Cheese
* Anticipate change: Get ready for the Cheese to move
* Monitor change: Smell the Cheese often so that you know when it is getting old
* Adapt to quickly: The quicker you let go of old Cheese, the sooner you can enjoy new Cheese
* Change: move with the Cheese
* Enjoy change: Enjoy the taste of new Cheese
* Be ready to change quickly and enjoy it again: As mentioned earlier, they keep moving the Cheese

The more important your Cheese is to you, the more you want to hold on to it. The point is that we can be lulled into thinking that there will be no change that our life is stable. We thus fail to notice that the world is changing around us.

Perhaps the time is right to draw up our own checklists:

1.Is our professional business on the right track? Which direction should we keep moving – say by offering new services to cater to the emerging needs of clients, or finding new clients, or spreading in new geographies?
2.Is our career on the right track? What value are we offering our employer? What do we need to do to move up the career path?
3.Is our personal life on track? How much time do we devote to the family or to our own needs? When was the last time you went to the dentist (Don’t laugh, I know for a fact that most of us keep postponing such things, blaming it on lack of time).

At the end of the book, the former classmates discuss the application of the story to their own lives and situations both on the career, business and personal front and how they must move with the Cheese.

It is a slim book, but one that packs a powerful punch. The truth may be difficult to digest – it simply means Change or else…So keep your running shoes, on – always.

Yes, this is again reviewed for The Bombay Chartered Accountants Societys' Journal.

Photographs sourced from : and the book photograph from Amazon.


Murray Abramovitch said...

For an alternate (and definitely harsher) view of this book, please check out this post at View from the Corner Office:

Lubna said...

Thanks, Murray. Alternate views are always welcome.

ReloMary said...

Great read, Lubna...I didn't know you, too had bungy (bungee) jumped! We're bungy jumpin' Sistahs!

"Who Moved My Cheese" has been around awhile and seems to be a book that applies today as it did when it was written. Good luck to us all!

Anonymous said...

Use the PPT on 'Who moved my...' in change management programs. Participants relate so easily to it. What I liked best was thrill of 'bungee jumping'. Thanks.