“Who Moved My Cheese” by Dr Spencer Johnson is a much-acclaimed bestseller that was first published in 1998 and is still relevant in 2021. The book is deceptively simple and can be easily read and understood even by a child, yet, make no mistake, the lessons are very deep and the insights it offers can enhance our thinking and understanding about organizations and people.
Who Moved My Cheese opens the way all nice fairy tales start…Once Long Ago, in a land far away there lived four characters who ran through a maze looking for cheese to nourish them and make them happy. The characters are appropriately named Sniff and Scurry (who are the little mice ) and Hem & Haw (who qualify as little people)!
As you may have figured, the setting of the maze in the story represents where you spend times looking for what you want and this is where these 4 amusing characters look for cheese – a metaphor for what we want to have in life – a job, a relationship, money, a big house, freedom and most important today – health.
As the story goes, both groups chance upon a cheese-filled corridor called ” Cheese Station C. “where the humans establish routines around their daily intake of cheese, whilst becoming complacent while Sniff and Scurry use their rodent brains of trial and error and continue their search for cheese on a daily basis while realizing that the cheese supply could dwindle. When it does happen, they begin their hunt for new cheese while Hem and Haw are shocked and annoyed with Hem demanding, ” Who moved my cheese? ”
Because the humans had counted on the cheese supply to be constant, the are unprepared for this eventuality and even when Haw suggests a search for new cheese, Hem’s inflexibility and disappointment makes him dismiss the proposal.
Meanwhile, Sniff and Scurry find ” Cheese Station N, ” while Hem and Haw continue to blame each other for their problem. One day, having discovered and overcome his debilitating fears, Haw decides to enter the maze, and warns his friend Hem- ” If You Do Not Change, You Can Become Extinct”. Even though he is fearful Haw jots ” What Would You Do If You Weren’t afraid? ” on the wall
His new mindset allows him to smile again especially when he realizes that ” When you move beyond your fear, you feel free.” Getting deeper into the maze, inspired by bits of new cheese here and there, Haw finally found what he was looking for and writes:
They Keep Moving The Cheese
Get Ready For The Cheese To Move
Smell The Cheese Often So You Know When It Is Getting Old
Adapt To Change Quickly
The Quicker You Let Go Of Old Cheese, The Sooner You Can Enjoy New Cheese
Move With The Cheese
Savor The Adventure And Enjoy The Taste Of New Cheese!
Be Ready To Change Quickly And Enjoy It Again
They Keep Moving The Cheese.
The book ends on the note that Haw hears someone and hopes Hem may have also found his way to the Cheese and a new thinking.