Coauthor of The One Minute Manager, Dr Spencer Johnson tells us a story about 4 characters who live in a maze and learn to deal with unexpected change. This is a business classic although the lessons it teaches are not limited to just managers and employees.
Who moved my cheese is a fable about four characters who live in a maze and they all love cheese. When the cheese disappears, Scurry and Sniff enthusiastically head out into the maze to find new cheese. On the other hand Hem and Hall feel betrayed and complain. They waste their time and energy hoping the old cheese will return. Hall realizes the old cheese won’t return so he sets out into the maze in search for new cheese. He writes what he learns on the walls hoping that Him will follow him. Eventually he discovers new cheese and sees that Scurry and Sniff were already there. Cheese a metaphor for what you want to have in life. It could be a good job, loving relationship, money or health. The very core message of the book is this: things constantly change so we must adapt. The quicker we adapt a change the more satisfied will be with.
Tim was an author and sold books on Amazon. He got paid $5.00 every time someone bought his book. This was his cheese. He loved his cheese but Amazon made a change to their way of paying authors. They introduced a new program called Kindle unlimited, where customers could download his book for free. The catch is that he only got paid for the amount of pages that customers read. He didn’t like this. His sales were dropping. He got angry at Amazon for taking his cheese. He spent weeks sending nasty emails to Amazon about why they should give his cheese back and complaining to his friends. Then there was Dave. He was an author as well instead of complaining, Dave sought out new cheese this brings us to few lessons on Change:
LESSON 1: Change Happens
They keep moving the cheese. Dave accepted that change is inevitable. Amazon is constantly updating their business systems to meet the demands of their customers.
LESSON 2: Anticipate Change
Get ready for the cheese to move. Dave expected things to change so he was not surprised when Amazon changed their payment system.
LESSON 3: Monitor Change
Smell the cheese often so you know when it’s getting old. Dave was able to anticipate change because he kept up with the latest news about Amazon. He talked with other authors and paid attention to the frequent emails Amazon sent him.
LESSON 4: Adapt To Change Quickly
The quicker you let go of old cheese the sooner you can enjoy new cheese. Dave knew that hanging around and complaining would not change amazon’s payment system so instead he quickly adapted to the change.
LESSON 5: Change
Move with the cheese. To adapt to the change Dave thought of ways to boost the sales with the new payment system. Through brainstorming and creative thinking he was able to come up with several techniques that would encourage the reader to read more pages in his books. One technique was to combine books that weren’t selling into one that was that way the reader was likely to read everything, as a result his sales began increasing again.
LESSON 6: Enjoy Change
Enjoy the taste of new cheese. Dave was happy that his work paid off. His success didn’t end there. He created an on-line course to teach people how they could adapt to Amazon’s new payment system and it sold like hotcakes. “Life moves on and so should we”
The old adage asserts that, ‘change is the only constant thing’; consequently, adapting and enjoying change repeatedly is the best thing to do. Spencer wrote Who Moved My Cheese to illustrate the effects of denying change or accepting it. Acknowledging, strategizing for, acting on, and enjoying change, underlines Spencer’s work. The ‘Hems’ of today should learn from and emulate the ‘Sniffs’ and ‘Scurrys’ to avoid extinction or mediocrity.