Who Moved My Cheese? An A-Mazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life by Spencer Johnson, MD, G. P. Putnam's Sons, Penguin Putnam Inc, New York (www.WhoMovedMyCheese.com), © 1998 by Spencer Johnson, M.D., ISBN: 0-399-14446-3, 95 pp, $20.
"Life is no straight and easy corridor along which we travel free and unhampered, but a maze of passages, through which we must seek our way, lost and confused, now and again checked in a blind alley. But always, if we have faith, a door will open for us, not perhaps one that we ourselves would ever have thought of, but one that will ultimately prove good for US." A. J. Cronin
Who Moved My Cheese? is a story about change that takes place in a maze where four amusing characters look for "Cheese"–cheese being "a metaphor for what we want to have in life," whether it is a job, a relationship, a big house, freedom, health, recognition or spiritual peace.
The imaginary characters are the mice, "Sniff " and "Scurry," and the littlepeople, "Hem" and "Haw." They "represent the simple and the complex parts of ourselves, regardless of our age, gender, race or nationality."
We may at times identify with "Sniff who sniffs out change early, or Scurry who scurries into action, or Hem who denies and resists change as he fears it will lead to something worse, or Haw who learns to adapt in time when he sees changing leads to something better!"
Whatever character we choose to relate to, they all share something in common: a need to find their way in the maze and succeed in changing times. Dr Johnson gives us a real-life example where the principles this individual learns can be used by anyone:
Charlie Jones, a well-respected broadcaster for NBC- TV, reveals that the story of Who Moved My Cheese? saved his career. Charlie had done a great job of broadcasting Track and Field events at an earlier Olympic Games and was surprised and upset when he was removed from these events for the next Olympics and assigned to Swimming and Diving.
He felt frustrated and unappreciated because he did not know these sports as well. He said he felt it wasn't fair! His anger began to affect everything he did.
Then he heard the story of Who Moved My Cheese?
After reading the story, he decided to change his attitude. He realized his boss had just "moved his Cheese." So he adapted by learning the two new sports, and in the process began to feel young. His boss recognized his new attitude and energy, and soon gave him better assignments. He continued to enjoy success and was later inducted into Pro Football's Hall of Fame–Broadcasters' Alley.
Kenneth Blanchard, PhD, who wrote the foreword "the Story behind the Story," has given this book to over 200 people working in his company and lists more than 75 corporations, businesses, universities, the military, hospitals, churches and schools who are using this book. Every company that wants to not only survive in the future but stay competitive, may in the past have wanted loyal employees. Today they need flexible people who are not possessive about the way things are done, understanding that we are living in constant white water with changes occurring all the time at work or in life. This can be very stressful unless people have a way of looking at change that helps them understand it. Enter the Cheese story.
The Cheese story is divided into three sections. In the first, A Gathering, former classmates talk about trying to deal with the changes happening in their lives. Each gives their own perspective on how life turned out differently than they had thought. The second section is The Story of Who Moved My Cheese?, the core of the book. When faced with change, the two mice do better because they keep things simple, while the two littlepeople's complex brains and human emotions complicate things. We all know that people are more intelligent than mice. But it becomes apparent that it would be to our advantage to do the simple things that work when faced with change. In the third section, A Discussion, the former classmates decide to meet again to discuss how The Story could impact their daily lives. Each identified themselves with either Sniff or Scurry or Hem or Haw and discussed how change evolved in their own lives, sometimes recognized too late to save their business. The story teller said that The Story really works. "It works best, of course, when everyone in your organization knows the story . . . because an organization can only change when enough people in it change. . . When we saw how well it worked for us, we passed the story along to people we wanted to do business with, knowing they were also dealing with change. We suggested we might be their 'New Cheese,' that is, better partners for them to succeed with. It led to new business." Then former classmate Jessica looked at her watch and said, "Well, it's time for me to leave this Cheese Station and find some New Cheese."
The Story has great relevance in today's HealthCare environment. We are overwhelmed with a lot of little people: the Hems who refuse to change and the Haws who are slow to change. We even have a lot of Hems who even want to adopt a system that has proven to be a failure, not only in this country but in the global community. They are unable to understand that the Cheese has moved. They are unable to understand that to move to a socialized government-controlled system, where there no longer is any Cheese, will result in failure. They are unable to comprehend failure despite the mounting evidence of impending bankruptcy of major economic communities that have experienced socialized government controlled health care. They are privatizing health care having learned from the failure of centrally managed health care. The Nobel Prize in Medicine should go to those who are able to convince the world that we need to return health care to "Haws" who are able to "Sniff" and "Scurry" and not sit like "Hem" in an empty maze void of Cheese or any other sustenance, waiting for The Cheese or the HMOs or the Old Time health care to return or become viable again. To explore the health-care maze, you may want to look at the maze at MedicalTuesday and have your friends do the same.