Who Moved My Cheese? unless people have a way of looking at change that helps them An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life understand it. Enter the Cheese story.
Dr Spencer Johnson When I told people about the story and then they got to read Foreword by KENNETH BLANCHARD Ph.D. Who Moved My Cheese? you could almost feel the release of
The Story Behind The Story negative energy beginning to occur. Person after person from every
by Kenneth Blanchard, Ph.D. department went out of their way to thank me for the book and I am thrilled to be telling you “the story behind the story” of told me how helpful it had been to them already in seeing the Who Moved My Cheese? because it means the book has now been changes going on in our company in a different light. Believe me, written, and is available for all of us to read, enjoy and share with this brief parable takes little time to read but its impact can be others. profound.
This is something I've wanted to see happen ever since I first As you turn the pages, you will find three sections in this book. In heard Spencer Johnson tell his great “Cheese” story, years ago, the first, A Gathering, former classmates talk at a class reunion before we wrote our book The One Minute Manager together. I about trying to deal with the changes happening in their lives. The remember thinking then how good the story was and how helpful it second section is The Story of Who Moved My Cheese?, the core of would be to me from that moment on. the book. In the third section, A Discussion, people discuss what Who Moved My Cheese? is a story about change that takes place The Story meant to them and how they are going to use it in their in a Maze where four amusing characters look for “Cheese”-cheese work and in their lives.
being a metaphor for what we want to have in life, whether it is a Some readers of this book's early manuscript preferred to stop at job, a relationship, money, a big house, freedom, health, the end of The Story, without reading further, and interpret its recognition, spiritual peace, or even an activity like jogging or golf. meaning for themselves. Others enjoyed reading A Discussion that Each of us has our own idea of what Cheese is, and we pursue it follows because it stimulated their thinking about how they might because we believe it makes us happy. If we get it, we often apply what they'd learned to their own situation. In any case, I become attached to it. And if we lose it, or it's taken away, it can be hope each time you re-read Who Moved My Cheese? you will find traumatic. something new and useful in it, as I do, and that it will help you The “Maze” in the story represents where you spend time deal with change and bring you success, whatever you decide looking for what you want. It can be the organization you work in, success is for you.
the community you live in, or the relationships you have in your life. I hope you enjoy what you discover and I wish you well. I tell the Cheese story that you are about to read in my talks Remember: Move with the cheese!
around the world, and often hear later from people about what a Ken Blanchard
difference it has made to them. San Diego
Believe it or not, this little story has been credited with saving A Gathering Chicago
careers, marriages and lives! One sunny Sunday in Chicago, several former classmates One of the many real-life examples comes from Charlie Jones, a gathered for lunch, having attended their high school reunion the well-respected broadcaster for NBC- TV, who revealed that hearing night before. They wanted to hear more about what was the story of “Who Moved My Cheese?” saved his career. His job as happening in each other’s lives. After a good deal of kidding, and a a broadcaster is unique, but the principles he learned can be used good meal, they settled into an interesting conversation. by anyone. Angela, who had been one of the most popular people in the Here's what happened: Charlie had worked hard and had done a class, said, “Life sure turned out differently than I thought it would great job of broadcasting. Track and Field events at an earlier when we were in school. A lot has changed.”
Olympic Games, so he was surprised and upset when his boss told “It certainly has,” Nathan echoed. They knew he had gone into him he'd been removed from these showcase events for the next his family’s business, which had operated pretty much the same Olympics and assigned to Swimming and Diving. and had been a part of the local community for as long as they Not knowing these sports as well, he was frustrated. He felt could remember. So, they were surprised when he seemed unappreciated and he became angry. He said he felt it wasn't fair! concerned. He asked, “But, have you noticed how we don’t want to His anger began to affect everything he did. change when things change?”
Then, he heard the story of “Who Moved My Cheese?” Carlos said, “I guess we resist changing because we’re afraid of After that he said he laughed at himself and changed his attitude. change.”
He realized his boss had just “moved his Cheese.” So he adapted. “Carlos, you were Captain of the football team,” Jessica said. “I He learned the two new sports, and in the process, found that never thought I’d hear you say anything about being afraid!”
doing something new made him feel young. They all laughed as they realized that although they had gone off It wasn't long before his boss recognized his new attitude and in different directions – from working at home to managing
energy, and he soon got better assignments. He went on to enjoy companies – they were experiencing similar feelings. more success than ever and was later inducted into Pro Football's Everyone was trying to cope with the unexpected changes that Hall of Fame-Broadcasters' Alley. were happening to them in recent years. And most admitted that That's just one of the many real-life stories I've heard about the they did not know a good way to handle them.
impact this story has had on people-from their work life to their Then Michael said, “I used to be afraid of change. When a big love life. chance came along in our business, we didn’t know what to do. So
I'm such a strong believer in the power of “Who Moved My we didn’t do anything differently and we almost
Cheese?” that I recently gave a copy of an early pre-publication lost it.”
edition to everyone (more than 200 people) working with our “That is,” he continued, “until I heard a funny little story that company. Why? changed everything.”
Because like every company that wants to not only survive in the “How so?” Nathan asked
future but stay competitive, Blanchard Training & Development is “Well, the story altered the way I looked at change, and after constantly changing. They keep moving our “cheese.” While in the that, things quickly improved for me – at work and in my life.”
past we may have wanted loyal employees, today we need flexible “Then, I passed the story on to some people in our company and people who are not possessive about “the way things are done they passed it on to others, and soon our business did much better, around here.” because we all adapted to change better. And like me, many people And yet, as you know, living in constant white water with the said helped them in their personal lives.”
changes occurring all the time at work or in life can be stressful, “What’s the story?” Angela asked.
“It’s called, ‘Who Moved My Cheese?” the walls with sayings and even pictures of Cheese around them The grouped laughed. “I think I like it already,” Carlos said, which made them smile. One read:
“Would you tell us the story?” Having Cheese Makes You Happy.
“Sure,” Michael replied. “I’d be happy to – it doesn’t take long.” Sometimes Hem and Haw would take their friends by in to see And so he began: their pile of Cheese at Cheese Station C, and point to it with pride,
The Story saying, “Pretty nice Cheese, huh?” Sometimes they shared it with
Once, long ago in a land far away, there lived four little their friends and sometimes they didn’t.
characters who ran through a maze looking for cheese to nourish “We deserve this Cheese,” Hem said. “We certainly had to work then and make them happy. long and hard enough to find it.” He picked up a nice fresh piece Two were mice named “Sniff” and “Scurry” and two were and ate it.
littlepeople – beings who were as small as mice but who looked Afterwards, Hem fell asleep, as he often did. and acted a lot like people today. Their names were “Hem” and Every night the littlepeople would waddle home, full of Cheese, “Haw”. and every morning they would confidently return for more. Due to their small size, it would be easy not to notice what the This went on for quite some time.
four of them were doing. But if you looked closely enough, you After a while Hem’s and Haw’s confidence grew into arrogance. could discover the most amazing things! Soon they became so comfortable they didn’t even notice what Every day the mice and the littlepeople spent time in the maze was happening.
looking for their own special cheese. As time went on, Sniff and Scurry continued their routine. They The mice, Sniff and Scurry, possessing only simple rodent brains, arrived early each morning and sniffed and scratched and scurried but good instincts, searched for the hard nibbling cheese they liked, around Cheese Station C, inspecting the area to see if there had as mice often do. been any changes from the day before. Then they would sit down The two people, Hem and Haw, used their brains, filled with to nibble on the cheese.
many beliefs, to search for a very different kind of Cheese – with a One morning they arrived at Cheese Station C and discovered capital C – which they believed would make them feel happy and there was no cheese.
successful. They weren’t surprised. Since Sniff and Scurry had noticed the As different as the mice and littlepeople were, they shared supply of cheese had been getting smaller every day, they were something in common: every morning, they each put on their prepared for the inevitable and knew instinctively what to do. jogging suits and running shoes, left their little homes, and race out They looked at each other, removed the running shoes they had into the maze looking for their favorite cheese. tied together and hung conveniently around their necks, put them The maze was a labyrinth of corridors and chambers, some on their feet and laced them up.
containing delicious cheese. But there were also dark corners and The mice did not overanalyze things. And they were not blind alleys leading nowhere. It was easy place for anyone to get burdened with many complex beliefs.
lost. To the mice, the problem and the answer were both simple. The However, the two littlepeople, Hem and Haw, used a different situation at Cheese Station C had changed. So, Sniff and Scurry method that relied on their ability to think and learn from their decided to change.
past experiences, although, they would sometimes get confused by They both looked out into the maze. Then Sniff lifted his nose, their beliefs and emotions. sniffed, and nodded to Scurry, who took off running through the Eventually in their own way, they all discovered what they were maze, while Sniff followed as fast as he could. looking for – they each found their own kind of cheese one day at They were quickly off in search of New Cheese. the end of one of the corridors in Cheese Station C. Later that same day, Hem and Haw arrived at Cheese Station C. Every morning after that, the mice and the littlepeople dressed They had not been paying attention to the small changes that had in their running gear and headed over to Cheese Station C. It wasn’t been taking place each day, so they took it for granted their Cheese long before they each established their own routine. would be there.
Sniff and Scurry continued to wake early every day and race They were unprepared for what they found.
through the maze, always following the same route. “What! No Cheese?” Hem yelled. He continued yelling, “No When they arrived at their destination, the mice took off their Cheese? No Cheese?” as though if he shouted loud enough
running shoes, tied them together and hung them around their someone would put back.
necks – so they could get to them quickly whenever they needed “Who moved my Cheese?” he hollered.
them again. Then they enjoyed the cheese. Finally, he put his hands on his hips, his face turned red, and he In the beginning Hem and Haw also raced toward Cheese Station screamed at the top of his voice, “It’s not fair!”
C every morning to enjoy the tasty new morsels that awaited them. Haw just shook his head in disbelief. He, too, had counted on But after a while, a different routine set in for the littlepeople. finding Cheese at Cheese Station C. He stood there for a long time, Hem and Haw awoke each day a little later, dressed a little slower, frozen with chock. He was just not ready for this. and walked to Cheese Station C. After all, they knew where the Hem was yelling something, but Haw didn’t want to hear it. He Cheese was now and how to get there. didn’t want to deal with what was facing him, so he just turned They had no idea where the Cheese came from, or who put it everything out.
there. They just assumed it would be there. The littlepeople’s behavior was not very attractive or productive As soon as Hem and Haw arrived at Cheese Station C each but it was understandable.
morning, they settled in and made themselves at home. They hung Finding Cheese wasn’t easy, and it meant a great deal more to up their jogging shoes and out on their slippers. They were the littlepeople than just having enough of it to eat everyday. becoming very comfortable now that they had found the Cheese. Finding Cheese was the littlepeoples’ way of getting what they “This is great,” Hem said. “There’s enough Cheese here to last us though they needed to be happy. They had their own ideas of forever.” The littlepeople felt happy and successful, and thought what Cheese meant to them, depending on their taste. they were secure. For some, finding Cheese was having material things. For others It wasn’t long before Hem and Haw regarded the Cheese they it was enjoying good health, or developing a spiritual sense of well-found at Cheese Station C as their cheese. It was such a large store being.
of Cheese that they eventually moved their homes to be closer to it, For Haw, Cheese just meant feeling safe, having a loving family and built a social life around it. someday and living in a cozy cottage on Cheddar Lane. To make themselves feel more at home, Hem and Haw decorated To Hem, Cheese was becoming A Big Cheese in charge of others
and owning a big house atop Camembert Hill. Now and then Haw thought about his mice buddies, Sniff and Because Cheese was important to them, the two littlepeople Scurry, and wondered of they had found any cheese yet. He spent a long time trying to decide what to do. All they could think believed they might be having a hard time, as running through the trying to decide what to do. All they could think of was to keep maze usually involved some uncertainty. But he also knew that it looking around Cheeseless Station C to se of the Cheese was really was likely to only last for a while.
gone. Sometimes, Haw would imagine Sniff and Scurry finding New While Sniff and Scurry had quickly moved on, Hem and Haw Cheese and enjoying it. He thought about how good it would be for continued to hem and haw. him to be out on an adventure in the maze, and to find fresh New They ranted and raved at the injustice of it all. Haw started to get Cheese. He could almost taste it.
depressed. What would happen if the Cheese wasn’t there The more clearly Haw saw the image of himself finding and tomorrow? He had if the Cheese wasn’t there tomorrow? He had enjoying the New Cheese, the more he saw himself leaving Cheese made future plans based on this Cheese. The littlepeople couldn’t Station C.
believe it. How could this have happened? No one had warned “Let’s go!” he exclaimed, all of a sudden.
them. It wasn’t right. It was not the way things were supposed to “No,” Hem quickly responded. “I like it here. It’s comfortable. It’s be. what I know.
Hem and Haw went home that night hungry and discouraged. Besides it’s dangerous out there.”
But before they left, Haw wrote on the wall: “No, it isn’t,” Haw argued. “We’ve run through many parts of the
maze before, and we can do it again.”
The More Important Your Cheese Is To You The More You Want To