Let me tell you a short story…

Two mice named ‘Sniff’ and ‘Scurry’ and two Littlepeople ‘Hem’ and ‘Haw’ lived together in a Maze. They spent their days on running through the Maze and searching for their special cheese. The Maze was a large labyrinth contained of corridors with loads of cheese. But there were also corners where it was easy to get lost.

To find their cheese the mice used simple trail-and-error method. They would fearlessly run one corridor and if they couldn’t find the cheese they turned and run down another, without a minute of hesitation. Once they found the cheese they wouldn’t put their running shoes away, but they would hang them on their necks ready to begin another search in case the cheese has run out.

Littlepeople, in comparison, using very similar thinking methods to human, relied on their more developed brains when looking for a cheese. Their emotions and complexity of their beliefs would sometimes make finding cheese a complicated and challenging process. They would very often feel scared, depressed or even cheated if the cheese disappeared. They would endlessly judge all available options before making the first step to finding a new cheese.

Searching for a new cheese was quick and easy process for mice, whereas every time the littlepeople run out of cheese they would suffer from being very hungry and very stressed. However, once littlepeople realised that searching for cheese isn’t that scary as it felt at first, they have started enjoying their lives in the Maze.

Who moved your cheese?

Mice and littlepeople are the characters of Dr Spencer Johnson’s bestselling book ‘Who moved my cheese?’. The author sold over 23 million copies of the book which still amazes millions of people with its simplicity in explaining the complexity of thoughts and emotions which people discover when dealing with change.

The cheese presented in the book is a metaphor of things we pursue in life. A successful career, a happy relationship, respect, fame or material things such as money and luxury life.

Littlepeople felt happy, safe and satisfied when they found their cheese. They felt that they deserved it, they owned it and these feelings were stopping them from being prepared for another cheese search.

Mice, however, just enjoyed the taste of the current cheese knowing that soon they may have to start their journey again.They were always opened to new challenges relating to searching for a new cheese.

The cheese having disappeared represents change. If we can’t adjust to the change we feel scared, negative, uncertain about our future and out of control.

I remember working with a manager who was always very negative towards new initiatives, be it a revised expense policy, a new IT system or environmental policy. He was passing this attitude towards his co-workers. Some of us felt very demotivated and found it hard to embrace the change when we knew that our leader didn’t agree with it.

Being a manager requires dealing with change on a daily basis, being a champion of a change and encouraging others to adjust to the new circumstances.

Many employees, just like littlepeople, get used to their old cheese very quickly and they are not willing to start the run again to adjust to the change (to find the new cheese).

It’s the managers who need to communicate benefits of the change to their employees and promote it amongst others to make an organisational change a success.

And it may not be as difficult as it sounds!

According to a new research, all you need is 10% of your employees to be of the Mice’s character to embrace the change and spread it amongst others. The strong believers of the idea have enough of power to persuade the rest of your company to embrace the change.

So don’t be afraid and remember: ‘The quicker you and your employees can get hold of old cheese, the sooner you can enjoy new cheese’!

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