Who Moved My Cheese?

Managing Change

Change is the only constant. It’s in the workplace and in our personal lives, whether we like it or not. How do we handle change? Run away and pretend it’s not happening? Run with it? Everyone who wants to be successful must learn how to see and manage change.

Spencer Johnson, author of “Who Moved My Cheese?” discusses ways to deal with change in your work and in your personal life.

He uses “cheese” as a metaphor for what you want to have in life: good job, loving relationship, money or spiritual peace of mind.

Cheese is what we think will make us happy happiness and successful. When circumstances take our cheese away, different people deal with change in different ways.

Johnson’s parable describes four characters who live in a maze and look for cheese to make them happy. The maze is where you spend time looking for what you want. It may be the organization you work in, the relationships you have in your life, or the community you live in.

The Little People

The two mice, Sniff and Scurry represent pars of us that are simple and instinctive. The “little people,” Hem and Haw represent those complex parts of us.

  • Sniff was one who would “sniff” out the situation and see the change early. He enjoyed working and was able to recognize and adapt to change.
  • Scurry was one who would “get things done.” Although he required monitoring, he was able to focus on immediate actions and results and would “scurry” from one task to another.
  • Hem refused to change out of fear. He wanted to stay in a familiar, comfortable territory and was afraid of the unknown. He wanted a safe and secure environment. He blamed others for his situation.
  • Haw was reluctant to change initially, but learned to adapt. With a sense of humor, he envisioned himself finding something better. Haw realized that the fear you let build up in you is worse than the situation that actually exists.

The book states that the biggest inhibitor to change lies within yourself, and that nothing gets better until you change.

“Our Iceberg is Melting” is another great book about managing change. John Kotter, a Harvard professor and Holger Rathgeber, a business manager talk about eight effective ways to bring positive change to any situation or organization.

The authors do a unique job of showing that most problems be it personal or business under any condition can be solved with the right strategy in place and when it is properly supported by those in the positions to effect positive change and can make it happen.

The book is a story about a colony of Emperor Penguins who live on a melting iceberg, which has been their homeland for years. One penguin, named Fred, observed signs of the iceberg melting and goes about making a colony of disbelieving penguins aware of the impending danger.

He finds a solution and makes the necessary changes to steer clear of the present danger and future ones. The penguins form a team with a leader who is experienced and wise and with a deputy who is practical and gets things done. The fable is all about an eight step process of successful change:

Kotter’s 8 Step Process of Successful Change

  • Create a sense of urgency
  • Pull Together a Guiding Team
  • Develop the Change Vision and Strategy
  • Communicate for Understanding and Buy In
  • Empower Others to Act
  • Produce Short-Term Wins
  • Don’t Let Up
  • Create a New Culture

These books are great references for managers finding it difficult to effect change at any level with their staff. It is also for the staff member who can't understand how and why change takes place in corporate organizations expected and unexpectedly.

Are you prepared for change like Sniff and Scurry – ready to move on, accept it and do something different? Are you like Hem and Haw – hemming and hawing and afraid of change and continuing to do the same thing over and over each day thinking that you will get different results?

We all share the common need to find our way in the maze of life and succeed in challenging and changing times. Change is hard, but there is nothing difficult about change. It’s part of life! I hope you find these resources and tips helpful with managing your own life and the changes you encounter. And as you continue to adapt to change in your life, I hope you remember to…

"Be a good person and do the right thing!” ~Author – Dena Kirk, Administrative Director for SIH & RIC Rehabilitation Services

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