21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on August 19, 2000
This book is getting both rave reviews and ringing denouncements. It deserves both.
Anyone who habitually reads business books will find this one to be simplistic and condescending. Of course change happens. Of course we should embrace it. Of course many people don't.
There are people who need to read this book, however. We all know people who refuse to accept any change, no matter how small, even if the change is a good one. Resisting any and all change is a waste of time and energy because change is coming; this is just how the business world is (not to mention life itself). You can sit around and complain about it or you can get up and move on.
At every job I've had, I've worked with someone who's so angry about the changes going on (if you work somewhere where there's no change occuring, be afraid) that they make everyone around them miserable. But despite their unhappiness, they won't quit because that would be even MORE change. So they just stay unhappy. Great solution.
If that kind of person could read this book and really get it, and not just resist the message, then the work world would be a better place for all of us.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on July 25, 2007
Good: it makes you realize that there's no point in clinging to the past or spending lots of time worrying about change.
Bad: Very oversimplified. Doesn't address how you're supposed to "follow the cheese" if you have 3 kids, a mortgage, jobs in your field are being outsourced left and right, and can't afford to go back to school.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on November 30, 2001
The greatest lesson of my professional life was this: everyone underestimates their ability to change their situation. It's a human tendency to think "others" are in charge: your boss, the CEO, the board. Truth is, even people you perceive as being above you think others control their fate. (CEO, for example, thinks: if I don't perform, investors will revolt and the board will fire me.)
This simple, undemanding book basically offers the same message. Instead of being victimized by change, take control of it. If you don't like your situation, change it.
What Johnson does well is to provide us with a common language and a simple framework to talk about the forces of change. That the book is doing so well reinforces the strong need people have to regain control over their lives.
As an author, I recognize that most people don't like to read, and that it takes a great deal of work to engage them and keep their attention. This book is short enough, but valuable enough, to wrestle an hour's work of your time.
One last point: I'd recommend this book if you need to work with others to bring about change. But if you work alone, or are simply focused on changing your own life, there are better and more comprehensive resources.
22 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on November 29, 2000
This is an excellent parable -- particularly the question "What would you do if you weren't afraid?" That's worth framing and hanging on your wall. But this book is not well written and is definitely not worth $20 -- $5 maybe. The type size is huge just to make the book appear longer. The parable itself would take up about 20 pages of normal-size type. The ideas are worth your time, but I suggest that you stop at the library rather than shelling out so much hard cash.
18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on June 17, 2002
If you're planning to read this book then beware... it is designed and structured to manipulate you! I realized this half the way through the book, and it dismayed me.
The premise of this book is to use a metaphorical story to simplify complicated life matters in order to deliver the message of the author in an easy and smooth manner. So what's the message of the author?
The author is telling you that you should always be ready for change when it happens. And not only be ready for it, but look forward to it. Expect it and be excited to go through it. The author is trying to say, if I understood him correctly, that change is inevitable in our world. That change will happen to you more than once in almost every aspect of your life. Mr. Johnson explains that the first reaction of intelligent humans is to resist change and fear it. Humans resist change because they fear the unknown, and thus would prefer to cling to their old ways of living even if they are not useful anymore just because it's easier to do so. Mr. Johnson wants you to free yourself from that mindset and be flexible and receptive of change.
Mr. Johnson decides to deliver this message the same way children are taught important principles and morals at their early ages, and that is through telling a simple story of four characters. The four characters live in a huge sophisticated maze. The maze is very difficult to travel through and the chances of getting lost are high. Two of the characters are mice, and the other two are "little people" called Haw and Hem. These four characters have one purpose in life, which is to find and eat cheese. The story begins when the characters find a vast amount of cheese in one section of the maze. The amount is immeasurable and the possibility of it running out is incomprehensible. Then the unintelligent mice take off their sneakers and hang them on their necks and begin eating the cheese. The intelligent little people on the other hand take off their sneakers and start building a social life around that pile of cheese.
One day though, the cheese ran out! And to tell a long story short, the mice, being all ready with their sneakers handy and nothing to get attached to, put on the sneakers and jump back into the maze in search of new cheese. The little people though are stunned! "Who moved my cheese?" is the point they keep going around and around with no intention of searching for new cheese because they are fearful of going back to the scary maze. Haw however begins to realize this and goes through a journey of gradually getting over his fears and going back to the maze and exploring it in search of new cheese, leaving Hem behind because Hem did not accept the fact that he had to change.
Once the story is over, the author makes up a discussion between friends at a school reunion discussing how this story resembles aspects of each of their personal lives. They discuss what the "cheese" is to each of them and how they resisted the change when the "cheese" was moved. And the book ends there.
Why did I not like this book? Well because of the paradigm it's trying to make me look at myself through! In this story I'm under the mercy of some unknown entity that keeps moving my cheese, and thus I should always be on the look for that! I can't make my own cheese! Instead I'm under the mercy of whoever distributes the cheese across the vast maze. I should always accept change because I'm so weak against it, and if I do choose to resist any type of change then I'll end up cheese-less!
Another flaw in this book is the oversimplification! This oversimplification can result in delivering the wrong message! So what if I accept the message and will change whenever I believe that change is required? What about my principles? Should those change too if they seem to be inept with a cruel environment I find myself to be living in? What about relationships? Should I give up on them if it seemed to have ran out of cheese?
A neat maneuver at the end of the book tries to escape this last flaw. In the discussion at the end one of the friends mentions that his relationship seems to not be providing him cheese anymore and thus he should end it, or change in other words. Another friend though tells him that what he needs to change is his attitude in this relationship and not the relationship itself! So my question is, how do you know what to change? How do you know which aspect of your life did actually run out of cheese?
Does the book answers these questions? Yes. It tells you that you need to change! How brilliant Dr. Johnson!
My advice is that you should seek more sophisticated books about personal independence and character power instead. Yet I still give this book 3 stars because it was short. It did not take a lot of my time to finish, which was a smart thing to do. I would've given it more stars if it wasn't for the great revelations the author claims that the readers should expect after finishing the book. Maybe if I was 6 years old I would've experienced tHem, but not at my age. Buy but with low expectations.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on January 20, 2003
If you've read the reviews below, you probably noticed that people don't give very high ratings for this book. Then how come the book sells so well? I think it was Amazon's best selling book a few years back. The reason is because it uses the same strategy as those chain emails. It has a nice little idea that is packaged with a referral suggestion. You'd be surprised how many people will follow the suggestion and spread out the word. Companies are also suggested to buy books for their employees, and that means hundreds or thousands of books per purchase.
Just like emails, it doesn't cost much to refer the book to other people. It doesn't cost a lot to buy the book neither. So I think that's how the book became so popular.
Pesonally I don't hate the book as much as some people here. It's a nice parable that might be applicable to some instances of my life.
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on December 26, 2000
This is a cute little story, written in a similar style to that of Heroz and Zapp, both on empowerment (which are both fabulous). This pamphlet length hardcover volume conveys a very simple story about a few characters who must deal with change. They are used to going to a certian place each day to find cheese, which symbolizes a job, life satisfaction or whatever one may find to be of great importance in life. One day the supply of cheese is gone, the two mice immediately move on to find a new supply, while the two littlepeople, Hem and Haw, procrastinate and dwell over their loss. By simply moving on, and accepting the change the mice are better off.
If you run across a copy of "Who Moved My cheese?" pick it up and read it, it's worth 20 minutes or so to read the meat of the book. It's a cute little story, from which you may learn something. The material this book contains amounts to less than that found in a Cliff Notes Volume, so you might actually read the whole thing.
23 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on December 25, 2000
My first reaction after reading Who Moved The Cheese was shock that it had become so popular. After all, it is not an extraordinary bit of prose, nor is its message-that we should all learn to deal with change--unique. It is a simple moral told simply. But therein lies the beauty. Johnson could have used ten-dollar words and written a thesis on the same concept, but the audience would have been miniscule. In this book he achieves maximum exposure for this important lesson in life by making it short and readable for the masses. This epigrammatic tale is well done and timeless.
I'm encouraged that the message has become so popular. One of the drawbacks of the incredible success of modern American society is the tendency to become complacent, fat and sassy, arrogant; the notion, enabled by Government entitlement programs, know-your-rights lawyers, and immature parents, that we all somehow deserve everything we have, and that we're victims who must fight against the injustice of it all when denied our just desserts. I believe that what Johnson has tapped into is one of the characteristics common to the world's most successful and happy people. They are neither Hem nor Haw (characters from the book), but rather Sniff and Scurry. While the rest of us wallow in self-pity, anger, and bitterness, paralyzed by self-doubt and indecision when someone has the audacity to "move our cheese," these people have already moved on, past fear, past retribution, eagerly accepting life's next challenge. These are America's CEO's, politicians, artists, entertainers, athletes, inventors, and adventurers. If more people read this book, maybe America can regain a bit of the can-do, self-determined spirit embodied by heroes like Ben Franklin, Abe Lincoln, Sergeant York, and Audie Murphy. -Christopher Bonn Jonnes, author of Wake Up Dead.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on January 14, 2002
I worked for a company that made us watch the video of this
book. (too cheap, I guess, to buy it) The book does have a valid
point that everybody needs to be aware of their "cheese". I wouldn't spend any money on it and recommend that others read it
in the book store.
My circumstances are a bit different than most readers of this
tale. It was just the modivation to get me to jump ship and work for another company. I have been back to my old company, as a consultant, to perform maintenance work a couple of times.
I must say that their cheese had moved alot more than mine in this case. Cheese moving can be two edged and good can come of
it as well as bad.
It is typical today that the Executives grasp on to silver bullets in desperation to boost stock returns. As it its typical
for stock holders to demand the same. What has changed is no
employee can expect paternalistic employers and no employer should expect loyal employees. As a result Stock holders cannot expect stable returns. Enron, Ford, need I list any more examples!
The message of this simplistic book is that in today's world
everyone is on their own for good or bad.