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“Who moved my Cheese” is a story written by Ken Blanchard. The story uses four characters, two mice named Sniff and Scurry and two little people, Hem and Ham, to explain the concept of managing organizational changes.
The author uses a similar target, cheese, for all four characters, which in real sense symbolizes the goals that human beings try to attain in life; they could be job opportunities, relationship or lifestyles.
The story takes an insight of what happens in our daily lives as a way of encouraging people to be prepared for any change. The author brings in the idea of attitude and optimism (palmer, 2008).
Purpose of the Author
The key purpose of the author in writing this book is to inform the public that change is inevitable. Ken Blanchard (1998) says that “there are changes in life and to everyone”.
He relays the message that people should adjust to change or risk losing; and the only way to change is by looking at it positively. In this story, the author informs us that change is happening everywhere, and to everybody. He advices us to adjust to change quickly, and warns us of the dangers of complacency to success.
Issues being addressed
There are a number of concerns that Blanchard examines in his book “Who Moved my Cheese”. The first issue is the outcome of change, which brings about fear and reluctance whenever people are faced with a need for change. According to Spencer (1998) “we resist change because we are afraid of change”.
Still on change, the author looks at what makes people change. Blanchard identifies attitude as a big factor when people are faced with change, since people are observed to associate change with negative outcome (Blanchard & Johnson, 1998).
In the story, one of the little people, Hem, was portrayed as being obstinate. After seeking cheese diligently and finding it, he became complacent, and modified his life to revolve around the newly found happiness. Once his cheese was finished, he was reluctant to start his search for new cheese, expecting things to fall back in place.
In the discussion part of the story, we get a clear example of how this behavior affects us in life, and especially in the work place. The trimming of departments is one good example, whereby good personnel are assimilated into other departments. Those who choose to ignore the reality of redundant departments find themselves unemployed, unless they prove to be of use in other departments.
Key concept being addressed
One thing that was common with all four characters in the story was the diligent search for cheese. All four characters found the cheese, and began to enjoy the rewards of their search.
While the mice were aware of the diminishing size of the cheese, acknowledging that a time would come when they would have to set off again in search of new cheese, the little people build their lives around the cheese, without looking at the possibilities of diminishing quantity and eventual end.
When this story is placed in a real life context, we find that people quickly forget their struggles when pursuing the good life, or other individual goals like jobs. They become complacent and fail to realize the need to keep themselves marketable, in order to continue enjoying the benefits (Blanchard & Johnson, 1998).
Blanchard did not write this story to condemn working people, but to alert them of the dangers of complacency. As a wise man once said “once bitten, twice shy”, Ham had learnt his lesson after the first piece of cheese ended. Once he found his second piece of cheese, which is said to have been better than the first, he did not wait for it to end before seeking another source.
Lessons from the book
Change occurs in all spheres of life, including the working environment and relationships. While things around us change, it is also important for us to change the manner in which we do things, in order to avoid loss. Most people are reluctant to change when things around them change.
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Both Hem and Ham became comfortable when they found the cheese, and even began to refer to it as theirs. This line of thought is what separated the little people from the mice, since the mice were always aware that the cheese was like a gift given to them, and it would come to an end at one time.
The story serves as a lesson to people who enjoy opportunities provided by other people, or circumstances. These opportunities can always be taken from us, anytime, unless we created them. It is therefore, important for people to keep track of possible changes, and try to change along with them, in order to avoid losses.
This story is credible, as this is what happens in our jobs and life in general. We are presented with opportunities all the time, and become complacent; a feature that inhibits our ability to grow, or expand the opportunities to other people.
The lack of growth in a rapidly changing environment leads to loss of jobs and opportunities for many people. It is therefore important for all people to be alert, and try to make the best of what they have by seeking to improve themselves in preparation for the unknown in the future. In general, people should be flexible (palmer, 2008).
Blanchard, K., & Johnson, S. (1998). Who Moved My Cheese?: An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life. New York : G. P. Putnam’s Sons.
palmer, i. (2008). Managing organization change. New York City: Mcgraw Hill Higher Education; 2nd edition.