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Who Moved My Cheese? Facing Change and Uncertainty

Last weekend, I was sorting through old notes from my college business classes and I came across a picture of cheese. Obviously, this caught my attention. The notes covered highlights from the book Who Moved My Cheese? An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life by Dr. Spencer Johnson.

Who Moved My Cheese? is a story about four characters, two mice named Sniff and Scurry, and two mice-sized humans named Hem and Haw, and their reactions to change. This video gives a nice summary with animation.

The group all live in a maze and spend their days looking for cheese. Sniff and Scurry and Hem and Haw come across Cheese Station C, which seems to have plenty of cheese for them to eat every day. One day, the mice, Sniff and Scurry, come to the station and see the cheese is gone, but they are not surprised as they have noticed the supply had been dwindling. They begin their hunt for new cheese and find a new cheese station, Cheese Station N, filled with cheese.

The humans, Hem and Haw, come to Cheese Station C also noticing the lack of cheese, which surprised them. Instead of looking for new cheese, they demand to know who moved their cheese and blame each other. After spending a while in denial, Haw realizes it is time to move on to find new cheese. He finds bits of cheese along his search, which he tries to bring back to his friend, who does not accept the new cheese. Haw returned to the maze to eventually reach Cheese Station N, where he reflects on his experience and writes on the walls:

Change Happens
They Keep Moving The Cheese
Anticipate Change
Get Ready For The Cheese To Move
Monitor Change
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
Enjoy Change!
Savor The Adventure And Enjoy The Taste Of New Cheese!
Be Ready To Change Quickly And Enjoy It Again
They Keep Moving The Cheese

Who Moved My Cheese is available on Amazon.

Finding the Cheese in Your Organization

When business growth happens, and tools and technology stay the same, many organizations find themselves in the same predicament as Hem and Haw. Whether it is the introduction of new technology, leadership changes, or process changes as the result of merger or acquisition activity, organizations need to heed the lesson from the mice playbook: It’s OK to fear of the unknown, but you need to go forward anyway and embrace change.

Managing Your Thoughts on Change

If you are dealing with fear of change, how exactly do you move forward? First, think about why you are afraid of the unknown. Is it the possibility of job loss, taking on more responsibility than you can handle, or having to learn new processes? When you pinpoint your fear, then consider if the fear is legitimate or if it is not. If the fear or phobia is real, decide how to address it to feel safe and secure. Determine who you can talk to about concerns and get answers to your questions, the skills you need to brush up on in preparation for the change, and how you can help your peers navigate through their own fears or phobias.

Partner with Mice to Find Your New Cheese

Organizations are filled with employees like Sniff and Scurry and Hem and Haw. While there are some people who are quick to adapt, the more common reaction is resistance to change. Bringing in certified change management experts skilled in planning, execution, and on-going support can help employees navigate change and smooth the transition to increase project success.

Don’t have a strategy for your upcoming change initiative? No gouda! Learn how organizations like yours are partnering with Avaap to improve change initiatives, project success, and adoption of new ways of working.