what’s it about?

Revealing business wisdom through a modern parable, Who Moved My Cheese (1998) offers valuable lessons on how to best manage change in your life. Whether you’re struggling amid a business downturn or trying to find a graceful way to handle a struggling relationship, this book gives you the tools to better understand human nature and see change as a positive force.

About the author

Dr. Spencer Johnson is an American physician and psychologist. His seminal work, Who Moved My Cheese, was on the New York Times business bestseller list for almost five years.


Your “cheese” or career success could be crippling you:

Sniff and Scurry, the two mice, don’t dwell on things too much. Instead, they spend their time rushing up and down the maze’s hallways in quest of cheese.

This seemingly “brainless” manner of obtaining their goal by these two mice is educational and is often the most successful method of achieving your own goals. Acting without overthinking can save you time and energy.

Sniff and Scurry just turn around and scramble down another road if there is no cheese at the end of one trail, for example, instead of becoming upset or frustrated.

Hem and Haw were also looking for cheese in the maze, but not because they were hungry. Instead, they believed that discovering cheese would make them happy and successful.

Hem and Haw used their more “complex” minds to devise techniques for finding cheese, memorizing the maze’s dark nooks and blind alleyways. Despite all of their planning, they were frequently perplexed and occasionally lost their way. And every time they came up empty-handed, they grew unhappy, questioning whether bliss could ever be found.

We, too, tend to overcomplicate things in “real” life. We get unduly committed to the status quo as well as overthinking topics or happenings.

Finally, Hem and Haw discovered Cheese Station C, which had a large supply of premium, imported cheese. They made it a point to get up early every day and go to the station for a snack.

Nonetheless, the couple’s existence began to revolve around the Cheese Station C feast. They felt at ease there and were proud of it, but they started to take it for granted.

When we find success or “our cheese,” like Hem and Haw, we can soon become reliant on it, to the point where our entire lives revolve around it.


Good things don’t last forever, so be ready!

So when Hem and Haw awoke one morning, they were surprised to discover that their cheese vanished.

Change, sooner or later, is unavoidable. Being aware of this can assist you in keeping a closer check on your current condition and better anticipating the shift to come.

On the other hand, Sniff and Scurry never took the stockpile for granted and made it a point to keep an eye on it for any changes. As a result, the two mice realized that the quantity of cheese was rapidly decreasing.

You may miss indicators that things are changing if you expect things to stay the same. Hem and Haw were so enamored with the cheese that they didn’t even notice when the supply was running out or when it began to mold!

It might be difficult to embrace change when we hold beliefs about ourselves. If you believe you deserve success, good health, or an unending supply of cheese, anything that deprives you of these things will feel unfair — to the point where you may even deny that change is taking place.

Cheese Station C, Hem, and Haw believed it was a prize for their hard effort. They’d spent so much time looking for it, after all! As a result, when the stockpile vanished, they were unable to accept reality.

This is not a situation you want to find yourself in. Instead, keep an eye out for change indicators in your life and adjust as quickly as possible. The sooner you do, the sooner you’ll be able to retrace your steps.

Sniff and Scurry didn’t dwell on Cheese Station C was practically out of cheese once they recognized it. Fortunately, they discovered a large supply at another station, Cheese Station N.

Hem and Haw, on the other hand, were not so fortunate. Unable to cope, the two returned to the deserted station, becoming increasingly hungry, sad, and feeble.

These two “small individuals” can teach you a thing or two: You’ll be better off if you hem and haw less and adjust to change sooner rather than later.


Visualizing your objectives can help you overcome the fears that prevent you from dealing with change:

Why do so many of us, like Hem and Haw, get caught off guard by major changes? It’s a fear thing. Fear is what makes dealing with change so challenging.

After all, change necessitates dealing with a new circumstance and a new set of norms. It’s normal to be afraid of change because it may be both bewildering and frustrating.

Hem and Haw, for example, had to return to the maze to acquire sustenance after they came to terms with the empty Cheese Station C. They were concerned that they would become disoriented or end up in a blind alley with no way out.

But keep in mind that as long as you’re frightened to leave your comfort zone, nothing will improve.

Consider the possibility that your partner has abandoned you or that you cannot participate in your favorite sport due to an injury. The sense of loss you’re experiencing – of love, of freedom – can be heartbreaking.

However, you won’t be able to recuperate until you discover a new method to fill your life with things that make you happy. This implies you’ll have to start looking for something new.

Even though Hem and Haw were starving, they were too afraid to venture down new routes in the maze. Instead, they destroyed the walls of Cheese Station C to discover if anything edible was hidden behind them! But it was all for naught.

Haw ultimately found an effective approach to cope with his anxiety. He saw himself reclining atop a massive wedge of soft-rind French Brie, his favorite cheese.

Visualizing your goal in vivid detail will improve your motivation to achieve it. So, if you’re stuck or can’t seem to overcome your fear, imagine your goal. This will pique your interest and provide you with the motivation to take action.


Things will improve if you take a risk and go in a different direction:

Haw moved on to find new cheese after picturing his aim. Hem, on the other hand, would not budge. He remained angry and starved at the empty cheese station, far too terrified to go out and look for cheese.

Haw’s experience improved considerably at the same time.

You learn how to better welcome change as you take a new path. If you can overcome your worries just once, you’ll have the courage to move forward the next time you’re presented with change. Fear will no longer paralyze you as it once did.

Even though he was alone and terrified when he began his adventure, Haw found the fortitude to continue. However, he gradually gained confidence. Even though he only found a few pieces of cheese early on, he was pleased with himself for having made it thus far. Now that his fears didn’t rule him, life seemed a lot better.

You learn how to better welcome change as you take a new path. If you can overcome your worries just once, you’ll have the courage to move forward the next time you’re presented with change. Fear will no longer paralyze you as it once did.

Even though he was alone and terrified when he began his adventure, Haw found the fortitude to continue. However, he gradually gained confidence. Even though he only found a few pieces of cheese early on, he was pleased with himself for having made it thus far. Now that his fears didn’t rule him, life seemed a lot better.

A new acquaintance, a new job, or even a new approach to handling disagreements or conducting business could be your new “cheese.” All you have to do now is take a step outside of your comfort zone and begin your quest.

Haw gradually regained his full strength and confidence. He investigated the maze with bated breath until he discovered Cheese Station N and plenty of cheese — the location where Sniff and Scurry had been all along.


Use the lessons from this “cheesy” parable to achieve your objectives!

So, how can you apply the principles of this story to your business or even your personal life?

Consider recounting the narrative of Hem, Haw, Sniff, and Scurry to your team. They may come to see change and the potential benefits to a business in a more positive light.

You can also learn a lot by asking your staff which character they most relate with. People who have a soft spot for the mice Sniff and Scurry, for example, could be the change agents your company requires.

“Sniffs” have a keen sense of observation. They can detect even the tiniest changes, allowing them to forecast major changes in the marketplace. Sniffs can also help a firm identify new goods and competitive advantages and update its corporate vision.

Scurry’s, on the other hand, are people who want to get things done. Employees should be encouraged to act by the new corporate vision.

During times of change, however, your organization’s “Hems” typically feel unsafe. This might be an issue, particularly if they can’t summon the bravery to transform into “Haws.” You’ll have to put in a lot of effort to show them how change can benefit them.

The “small people’s” and mice’s experiences might instruct your staff to be on the lookout for fresh opportunities. Consider the conclusion of our parable. Although Cheese Station N had plenty of cheese, Haw continued to explore the maze searching for more stashes, having learned his lesson.

Indeed, what is effective today may not be effective tomorrow. As the environment evolves, so must your business – or you will be left behind.

So, even when things appear to be going well, keep an eye out for new and interesting opportunities.