on September 5, 2000
If you've been given this book by someone at work it means that something bad is about to happen there. This book is set up to attempt to make you quiet and complacent. The book is arranged in three parts: an introduction which informs you that nearly everyone likes this book. You learn that if you don't like this book it probably means that you're afraid of change, stubborn, a know-it-all, and not likely to weather whatever impending storm your boss has in mind. So, having been conditioned to accept and like the book, you move into its main body which is a story about mice and people in a maze. When the maze changes the mice don't think much, don't question anything, they just adapt. The people think. This causes grief for the people. They don't think TOO hard though. Neither ever thinks "why am I in this maze in the first place and could I try to get out?" or "where is this cheese coming from and why?" They think only about the maze and the cheese in it. The third part of the book is a summation of what you have learned so far, using some old friends at a highschool reunion as examples. Those who think too much or do not adapt instantaneously and quietly end up badly (for example being fired!) Those who behave like mice live happily ever after. Beware of this book.
on January 24, 2001
The subtle, underlying message of this book is "Don't waste time fighting against bad changes: accept that bad stuff will happen to you for no good reason and just keep moving, like an animal." The animal analogy is a valid one: animals do not question or complain about changes that hurt them, they just try to survive. Any CEO would love a company full of mice--and this book is a great step along that road.
Furthermore, the book's core analogy makes the insulting assumption that employees shouldn't bother with reason or analysis: pure survival instinct is all the CEO wants to see. Real humans in a maze, confronted with vanishing or moving cheese, wouldn't just whine; they'd analyze their situation and find a creative solution, instead of just going back to foraging. Maybe the cheese-deposit mechanism is stuck; maybe the cheese is shifting in a pattern that can be understood; maybe there's a way out of the freakin' maze! "Just accept it and keep moving" is not only a simpleminded philosophy, it's often dead wrong.
Change is not always bad, but it should always be questioned, and opposed if it's harmful. Be a man, not a mouse.
on July 6, 2000
"Who Moved My Cheese?" is the epitome of no-fault corporatism at its worst, and the fact that so many people see the message as harmless is frightening. Yet the fact that this book finds such purchase in Human Resourse departments is not surprising.
The central theme of the book is that you are a rat in a maze. While that is quite an insight into how companies that give out this book see their employees, it is not wholly accurate. Throughout the course of this "book," it becomes clear that the theme is that you are more stupid than a rat in a maze.
What the book supports is that workers run around like good little mice and find whatever cheese the company sees fit to give them. The company has no responsibility at all to their employees to provide any kind of security, and if the cheese that they deign to give their employees moves, it is their worker's responsibility to keep up or literally perish. The unthinking constant activity of the mice is heralded as the ideal of behavior. In other words, shut up, do what we tell you as fast as you can, and adapt to our changes, or perish.
Change is obviously inevitable, but this book completely ignores your ability to affect change yourself. It is always the "other" moving the cheese instead of moving the cheese yourself. Self-will and determination are completely thrown out the window. It also completely discounts the capability of thinking about the situation to effect positive results; only unthinking reaction is held up for praise.
Anyone who holds this book up as a laudible reflection on change is completely ill-adjusted for the real thing.
on September 20, 2013
This reviewer remembers having gone to the office (at a then "Big 5 "accounting firm) one day back in 2000 and having found this so-called book (in actually this "book" more of a pamphlet than a book) on his desk. This reviewer's first reaction was to think it was a joke. He called one of his fellow staff members to ask if it was a joke and was quickly informed that every employee in the firm had received, like the reviewer, a copy of this "book" at his or her desk. Knowing that the distribution of this book on a wide level usually portends some massive "change" at the office this reviewer was not happy to find out it was not a joke. The reviewer was very tempted to throw out the book but knowing, based on the fact that everyone in the firm received, we could all be out of work it was wise to, instead, keep for something to do while unemployed (that moment came about four months after the book was passed out). After reading it, while unemployed, the reviewer developed a very negative opinion of it (the reasons for this are discussed below).
About 13 years later this reviewer saw an employee with this book (at another firm). He thought to himself, was this book really as bad as he remembered it? After all, he remembered it as one of the most insulting books he had ever read. Perhaps it was just a poor memory (and the years) playing a cruel joke. Hence he decided to re-read it again. Unfortunately, after reading it again, the memories were only found to be correct. This was truly one of the most insulting books this reviewer had to read, never mind having been given as a "gift". This was the case on so many levels.
First of all this "book" is written for 10 year olds, in terms of both style and content. The 80 "page" book had about three paragraphs per page and on just about every other page had a one page picture with a piece of cheese with some short pretentious "philosophical" statement in it (i.e., "move with the cheese and enjoy it", "old beliefs do not lead you to new chees", "having cheese makes you happy", etc.). It is remarkable how management would even think of giving something out to adults. What were they thinking? That their workforce consists of children who need to be guided by adults (i.e., management)? Insulting, to say the least.
As if this was not bad enough, per se, there is the story contained in the book. This is of mice who need to get used to the fact that things change and they need to adapt. Who over six years old does not know this? Does management think their workforce consists of idiots? Another vicious insult. In addition, the implication that employees are mere mice chasing pieces of cheese in a maze is another insult to their workforce. Does management really believe that this is all the workforce really is to them? Nothing more than rodents?
Another point that this book makes, implicitly, is that the workforce needs to accept this change, brought about by management, without question and with no critical eye in much the same way that the population of the Soviet Union had to accept the perpetual policy changes made by that nation's leadership without question or thought. Never mind that many of the changes brought by management, especially organizational changes, are more often without rhyme or reason. Another insult.
In short, this book does nothing more than insult an entity's workforce in so many ways. Plus it shows how highly management views itself over and above its own workforce. After reading this, one can justifiably ask oneself if management would actually feed its workforce to cats if it lead to larger bonuses for themselves. The only positive benefit is that it makes all of this obvious to the workforce, in and by itself a valuable service.
on August 30, 2000
This is the WORST business book I have ever read. The intent behind it is valid, but the content can be summed up in a few statements:
Change will happen
If you don't change, you will die (figuratively or literally)
Watch for signs of change, so you can be prepared to change, too
Change is good, and can lead to something better
There. Do you feel like paying me [good money] for that priceless knowledge?
This is a parable, which means they dressed up the real content by writing a goofy story about mice and little people, taking up more pages so they could justify the cost. Unfortunately, they could only drag the story out so far (how many times can you read, "and he kept walking and looking for more cheese"). The book was still only about 20 pages long, too short for a hardcover, so they added a second story to frame the parable itself. The second story is about a group at a reunion that talks about the book. Even THAT doesn't add enough pages to justify printing it in hardcover, so they increased the print size to roughly what you see in books for 3 year olds.
The author, publisher and whoever else was involved in this moneymaking scheme obviously recognized that many people would see through their efforts. Their solution? Put in a statement saying, in effect, "If you think this book isn't worthwhile, then you aren't a talented, cutting edge business person like all the other who read the book are."
Believe me, someone in your office (probably your boss) is waving this book around, exclaiming how wonderful it is and telling you to read it. ASK IF YOU CAN BORROW HIS COPY. Do not spend money on it yourself. You're going to have to read it, unfortunately, because the herd has spoken and you can't stray from the herd. I'll bet the person who started the rumor that this was a good book is getting royalties. It's the only explanation.
The one saving grace about this book is it's a quick read. I finished it in 23 minutes. At least you can soon move on to something more worthwhile.
on March 11, 2004
I was required to read "Who Moved My Cheese," and to post this review, as part of my masters' degree curriculum. I read the book in the bathroom of room 817 of the Chattanooga, Tennessee, Marriott Hotel. While our two children (aged five and two), slept peacefully in the hotel beds in the next room, I sat up on the vanity near the sink, while my husband stretched out in the tub, reading Karen Armstrong's "The Battle for God." How did we come to be thus: reading books in a small, uncomfortable room under a brash and flickering florescent light? In fact, just hours before, someone had Moved Our Cheese. That someone was the Sheraton Read House Hotel down the street which, despite our having paid in advance through lodging.com for a two-room suite, had, upon our arrival at 4:30 p.m., given that suite to someone else.
So it was with particular interest that I opened the pages of Spencer Johnson's best-seller, truly wanting to know: what should a rational person do when their cheese has been moved? Dr. Johnson's tale is a simple one: two mice, Sniff and Scurry, and two "little people" named Hem and Haw, one day discover that the traditional source of their cheese is gone. As Johnson explains it: "Cheese in this case is a metaphor for what you want to have in life, whether it is a good job, a loving relationship, money, a possession, health or spiritual peace of mind." Predictably, when the two mice realize the cheese is gone and it is not coming back, they sniff and scurry off and find an abundant new source of cheese. The human like creatures do not fare as well: Hem continues to bemoan the loss of his cheese and to feel sorry for himself, whilst Haw, after an initial period of fear and self-doubt, comes to realize that more cheese, better cheese, new and interesting cheese, is out there for the asking. If only one is courageous enough to see past the loss, new opportunities await. In other words: If Your Company Gave You This Book You Are About to be Fired or Downsized, Little Mousie. Love, Management.
What did I learn from this book that I can apply to my personal and professional life? As I was already familiar with the concept of reality and how to deal with it, the book was not particularly helpful (although Johnson's chutzpah did make me laugh a lot ). However, reading "Who Moved My Cheese" did do quite a bit to confirm that our society is not getting any smarter. Is this what becomes a national bestseller today? Trite, insipid platitudes aimed at those who are grasping at the one-minute pop psychology solution? Is it a coincidence that the ½ hour it takes to read this book is about the same amount of time it takes to watch a TV sitcom? This book does nothing to assuage those who fear that we're becoming a nation of morons: indeed, it validated for me the suspicion that much of our culture today is directed toward the lowest common denominator. How else can we explain the popularity of a book that is more appropriate for my five-year-old son than someone out in the business world. The book's "lessons" are so painfully simplistic as to be insulting. Surely every reasonable person has figured out, by the age of 25, that change is inevitable and one must roll with the punches? Can America's business leaders really believe their workforces are such simpletons as to benefit from such gems as (real chapter headings, I am not making this up): "Change Happens," "Anticipate the Change," "Monitor Change," "Adapt to Change Quickly," "Change," "Enjoy Change!," and "Be Ready to Quickly Change Again and Again?" Indeed, the only one truly benefiting, it seems to me, is Dr. Spencer Johnson. At $19.95 a pop that little mouse must surely laugh himself to sleep every night.
on June 29, 2004
The unbelievably large number of people who think this is a good book is very scary. I hope these people are not important decision makers. Everything bad that can be said about this book has been said before, so I'll just compile a "Best of" list for you. (By the way, in case you're wondering, "Dr." Johnson's degree is in education.)
Regarding management and corporate American in general
* This book is the cop-out for managers who believe in change for change's sake.
* It's corporate brainwashing of the kind that science fiction writers have been warning us about for decades.
* Never have I come closer to the mind crushing monotony and impersonality of corporate America than when I read this book.
* No, change is not a good thing when it happens on a regular basis. That means upper management can't make up their minds.
* If you are thinking about buying this book, I assume you are a manager of some type
Regarding the intellectual level of the book:
* I have never felt my intelligence more insulted than when reading this.
* It's patronizing, shallow, insipid, and still manages to be patently insulting to those employees who might actually be capable of analytical thought. That's quite a feat.
* Should appeal to intellectually challenged only.
* It is a sad comment on our culture, society, and educational system that so many people have found this inane drivel to be "life-changing".
* (...)BR>* (...).
* Distilling these important matters into the inane parable of mice in a maze is a literary device meant for grade school students.
* The book presents an excellent reading for absolute imbeciles or people high on drugs.
Regarding the message of the book:
* It teaches that you must not struggle, succumb to the will of the greater power of management, and accept change without regard to whether it is appropriate or not.
* Don't think, just go with the changes as we prescribe them. If you don't, you're inflexible or afraid of change.
* The ideas in this book could have been expressed in a paragraph and even then they would not have been worth the time to read them
The people who more productively decided to just make jokes about the stupidity that is this book said:
* As I was already familiar with the concept of reality and how to deal with it, the book was not particularly helpful.
* Your time would be better spent just taking a nap.
* Buy real cheese. Don't buy this sorry excuse for a book.
* I think people like it cause it can be read and finished while sitting on the toilet.
* Resistance is futile!
* Any manager who would try to force these ideas on their employees would be better off just spiking the coffee with anti-depressants.
* The South Park gang would find it too puerile.
If you were even mildly amused by anything in this review, then you are already infinitely better off than if you read the book. Now please vote "Yes" on my review (after all, I just saved you $14+). Thanks!
on November 23, 2004
If you are a manager who wants to be excused for his/her bad decisions by disguising them as "change" that "just happens," this is the book you should make mandatory reading for your employees.
That's how a lot of corporate America works, after all: companies do not make mistakes, it's the employees who cannot adapt to "change."
Oh, I almost forgot. Make sure that you are managing a bunch of intellectually challenged individuals, because any person of average intelligence will find this book very insulting.
on January 21, 2004
Contrary to what many negative reviews said about it, this book does not compare us to mice, but to dwarfs; after all, the hero of the parable is Haw, a dwarf that learned to "adapt and enjoy the change".
Hem and Haw are two dwarfs looking for cheese in a maze, and eventually they find a place that seems to replenish itself with cheese from one day to the next. Haw starts agreeing with his pal Hem, who is confortable where he is, and both do not understand when the cheese disappears and get frustrated and a little confused. Then Haw asks himself how could he be any worse if he just went looking for another piece of cheese through the labyrinth again. Little by little he starts convincing himself that to invite change, to not be afraid of change, to visualize your goal (the new chunk of cheese), and to be fueled not by fear but by hope of achieving what you want is the best thing one can do. Hem stays behind, moaning and moping, complaining of the unfairness of the situation, that he deserved the cheese, that he won't like any new brand of cheese that Haw may find - that is, if he finds it at all. Of course Haw finds a new place with not one, but many types of cheese, but by now he has learned not to trust permanence, and actually enjoy change. He even tries to convince Hem to give up the expectation that the old cheese will reappear, and to come along with him to this new section of the maze that has all this cheese, but alas, Hem does not change, and stays where he is.
What the book does not state, in any part of it, is that changes may be a bad thing.
Any normal human being knows that. Sometimes even when we adapt, and try our best to accept that things change, we still get failures. And sometimes things should not be adapted, because that will make the situation worse than it is. Sometimes is best to stay put, sometimes is best to see that things are changing, and adapt intelligently. Should that be obvious? Apparently there is a whole book about change that states from beginning to end that change is a good thing, period, and that book sells I don't know how many millions.
I dont know why I'm writing this review, since there's already 1131 reviews posted, and I doubt if this is going to be of further help. Also I've never written any reviews, but this book was so bad that I felt impelled to say something. If you've read so far it means you know how to read a text longer than two sentences. It should permit you to skim this 92 pages of poorly written prose, few-words-per-sentence sentences, all-around easy to read and easy to understand piece of s... without much trouble, but then again, if you want to avoid the trouble, read paragraph two for a synopsis and go browsing for better books.
on January 9, 2003
This book truly is a-maze-ing. Let me elaborate: The actual text starts on page 27, and the book ends on page 94. The text is 14-point font. Every other page consists of either a single paragraph or a huge wedge of Cheese with a beat-me-over-the-head-with-a-cheese-wedge observation posing as insight. ...and is a BEST SELLER! I don't know who that speaks worse of, the shysters posing as shrinks or the general public posing as Pavlov's dogs.
Not only is the price highway robbery, but the concept is blatantly abusive. The premise of the story is a group of friends at a reunion, one of whom revolutionized his whole company with this story and is passing it along. He emphasizes how the whole company laughed at the corporate executive who felt this story was a waste of time and nicknamed him "Hem", the character who refuses to change. He also mentioned he had to let go the people who refused to change--i.e. the people who did not like the story. TRANSLATION: "If you think this book is a waste of time, then you are an idiot and will be mocked and destroyed while others succeed in your wake."
This book certainly is a waste of time, but not too much time. But it's still a pretty expensive way to spend a half-hour.
On a final note, this is an actual line from the book:
"Hem and Haw continued to hem and haw."