Book reviews

Book Review: « Who Moved My Cheese? » An allegory for change

Way to deal with change

Book Cover

« Who moved my cheese? » is a story of how different people react to change. The author uses two mice, “Sniff” and “Scurry”, and two people, « Hem » et « Haw » looking for cheese to illustrate his lesson.

The mice and the people both start by lacing up their shoes and searching the maze for cheese. They eventually find it in Cheese Station C.  They sit down and eat to their hearts’ content until the cheese is gone.

Sniff and Scurry don’t think too much about it: No cheese here? No problem. Let’s go back into the maze and look for another cheese station.

On the other side, the people side, things are different. They don’t know how to deal with change!

How people react to change

Hem is outraged and wants to fight the “injustice” of not having cheese. Hem categorically refuses to move from where the cheese was before. Haw is shocked and depressed, but finally resigns to look for cheese elsewhere. It takes a while though to enact that decision because Haw is afraid of going back out there: what if there is no cheese; what if I get lost. But then, after a while, hunger overcomes fear, and Haw laces up and heads back towards the Maze.

[twitter_icon] What would I do TODAY if I weren’t afraid? #changemanagement #overcomefear

Who moved my cheese is an allegory for Change.


 While the two mice enjoy the cheese they find, they never lose the instinct and the process of finding new cheese. The little people, on the other hand, once they find their cheese, settle and declare themselves successful and happy. They stop honing the skills they had needed to find the Cheese in the first place. When the inevitable change comes along, they are not prepared to deal with it.

We’ve all heard the excuses:

   “We’re entitled”

   “It’s comfortable. It’s what I know”

   « I’m getting too old for that”

   “It’s not what I’m used to”

Technological change especially looks scary

On International Archives Day on June 9th, journalists interviewed a number of professionals about the future of archives. One interviewee said with great authority that physical archives are more reliable than digital archives because they are tangible: they can’t be erased at the push of a button. She didn’t seem to realize that physical archives are: rarely available in more than one copy, that unique copy can be corrupted: water, fire, mold, mice, theft, a physical copy is not readily accessible or retrievable. On the other hand, digital copies can be stored in several places, and protected against unauthorized access.

Does this fear of the ‘new’ come from a sense of fear of the new and too much comfort in the old? Lack of education about the “new”? Whatever the case, holding on to the “old” only makes one inefficient and ineffective in the short-term, and obsolete and redundant in the long term.

[twitter_icon] Holding on to the “old” makes a person inefficient in the short-term and redundant in the long term #upgradeyourself

Lesson learnt

As Haw eventually realized and wrote down on the wall, [twitter_icon] “Noticing small changes early helps you adapt to the bigger changes that are to come.”

Which recent workplace change have you been struggling with? Leave your comment in the section below.



Ingrid Nya Ngatchou

Ingrid est convaincue que les entreprises locales peuvent passer à une vitesse sUPérieure. Professionnelle aguerrie, avide lectrice, elle partage avec les chefs d'entreprises et cadres ses connaissances.