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Posts Tagged ‘Spencer Johnson M.D.’

By Pam Banks

Spencer Johnson’s Who Moved My Cheese is an interesting look on how and what motivates us to make decisions.  The story centers around four fictional characters:

  • Two mice named Sniff and Scurry
  • And two little people named Hem and Haw

This may sound a bit like a Shrek fairy tale but it does have some important messages.

Sniff, Scurry, Hem and Haw all live in a maze.  Every day they get up and venture into the maze to find cheese.  Sniff and Scurry do exactly what their name implies – they work every day to sniff out and scurry to new cheese spots.

Hem and Haw, the little people pride themselves on being much more intelligent and use more complex strategies to find their cheese. And one day they find the mother lode of cheese.  There is so much cheese that they move their house closer to the cheese, they even forget how to run the maze.

There is so much cheese they expect it will always be there.  They become very comfortable with their lifestyle to the point that they don’t notice what is happening around them.  Life was good until one day Hem and Haw went to get some cheese and it was all gone!

They couldn’t believe their eyes. They yell and scream “how can this be happening”  “who did this to us”?  Their anger turned to analysis and they were sure that the cheese would reappear, because they could not believe that it had gradually disappeared.

Meanwhile Sniff and Scurry had moved on.  When they saw the cheese stores disappearing they continued to run the maze so they would be ready to find new opportunities.

Hem and Haw continued to wait and analyze the situation until they were near starvation.  Finally, Haw came to the conclusion that it was time to move on because if you do not change you can become extinct, but Hem couldn’t leave.  Hem was afraid.

When Haw started out by himself he was afraid as he moved down the dark corridors, and as he started running he realized that when you move beyond your fear you feel free.

Haw soon he concluded that old beliefs do not lead you to new opportunities. And he started behaving differently rather than returning to the old spots.  Once Haw let go of the past he sped through the maze and then it happened – he found a new cheese station – piled with new cheese.  To his surprise Sniff and Scurry were already there!

This story illustrates some important things:

  • Change is constant we need to keep our eyes open and don’t get too attached to the present
  • Notice when little changes begin so that you are prepared for the big change that might be coming
  • Keep things simple, don’t over analyze – when the situation changes be prepared to move on
  • The biggest inhibitor to change lies within ourselves

As I read this story I keep thinking about the current plight of our automotive manufacturing sector.  I wonder if these messages from our little people could have circumvented the industry downturn and the public sector bailouts – to sniff out changes ahead of time and scurry into action, rather than get hemmed in and be left behind.

Pam is Commercialization Director for RIC Centre. She is a regular book reviewer on the business program  In Business on Rogers TV. Watch Pam’s review of Who Moved My Cheese .

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