A useful book on change

I’ve just re-read Who Moved My Cheese? written by Spencer Johnson in 1988. It’s a quick and easy read and a helpful reminder of how we tend to react to change in our lives and there’s even a short film on you tube.

In this metaphorical story, four characters search through a maze for cheese. Two of the characters, Sniff and Scurry, are mice and two, Hem and Haw, are little people. All four find cheese and enjoy it but over time Hem and Haw begin to feel a sense of entitlement, that the cheese is theirs by right. When the cheese runs out the mice instantly adapt and head off to search for new cheese. Hem and Haw, however, are immobilised by their emotional reaction to the loss of the cheese and their attempts to analyse the situation. They literally can’t move on. Eventually Haw laughs at himself and this laughter frees him to think a new thought: what would he do if he wasn’t afraid? Liberated from his old thinking, Haw is able to embrace change and seek out – and find – new cheese. We never quite know what happened to Hem.


“Swiss cheese cubes”. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons 


It’s interesting to consider the story in different ways: as a metaphor for our reaction to climate change; as the basis for a political manifesto in the impending UK general election or even to consider the wisdom of seeking solace from a product whose production is contentious to those who care about animals’ rights.

However you interpret the story, Who Moved My Cheese? is a helpful reminder about how we might change our reaction to change.