138 of 159 people found the following review helpful
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.
639 of 754 people found the following review helpful
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.
132 of 153 people found the following review helpful
on October 8, 2004
Who Moved the Cheese? The title question is never addressed, as if the "cheese" was swept away by a natural disaster, rather than through the conscious decisions of people in power - people who benefit from those decisions. In real life, we know very well who took the "cheese:" fat cat CEO's paying themselves astronomical salaries while exporting jobs to India and China. The purpose of the book is to distract workers from the obvious. The underpaid and the downsized are urged to just pick up and find opportunity elsewhere, without questioning the overall circumstance - as if God Himself stole the "cheese."
I've taken the liberty of writing new ending to the book. The two mice, Hurry and Scurry, who uncomplainingly went looking for new cheese, are now on their third McJob in three years. Hurry is now a barista at Starbucks. Scurry is a nurses' aide. They share an two-room apartment in Brooklyn with a couple of other underemployed mice, since none of them can afford rent on his own. Haw, the more enterprising of the two "littlepeople," has been temping for a while. The hourly wage is good, but he's worried, because he has no health benefits, and his 401(k) is in the tank. The grudging, resentful Hem, having been convinced by Fox News that the federal government is at fault, has joined the Littlepeople Militia. They are stockpiling guns and chemical fertilizer.
1,626 of 1,940 people found the following review helpful
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!
30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
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.
138 of 162 people found the following review helpful
on August 15, 2000
Luckily enough, I didn't have to pay money for this book - I was forced to read it by my employer. The fact most people read this book after their co-workers are handed pink slips as part of a kinder, gentler corporate reduction in force should be indicative enough of the intent of this book. Don't be fooled by the wanna-be New Age slant - the majority of examples in this book are work-related. The "& in Your Life" in the title is there to attempt to hide the ridiculously pro-upper management viewpoint of the book.
Even if you can get over the 2nd grade reading level writing style, there's still the truly bad content to contend with. The author categorizes us all as either mice or "little people" in a maze who get bent out of shape if our "cheese" is moved. The moral of the story is that we should not get angry when our life bread is constantly moved and hidden from us by some invisible higher power (hmm, equating a higher power to large companies isn't too disconcerting now, is it?). Instead, we should not only embrace the fact we are being messed with, but also have FUN with it.
I am a reader of self-help books. Additionally, I deal with change for a living (it's in my title and everything). I can, without a doubt, tell you that the goal of this book is not to teach the reader change management techniques for work or personal life, but rather it teaches that we should all be good little soldiers. It is antithetical to what most self-help books and books that address coping with change try to teach their readers. If you are looking for one of those types of books, save your $10-20 and look elsewhere. However, if you are looking for a way to control your large, disgruntled workforce, then by all means purchase 100 copies and distribute immediately as required reading to your employees. Those who read between the extra-large lines will most likely begin to seek employment elsewhere (who needs such rabble-rousers, anyway) and the rest will be pressured into submission (you hope).
65 of 74 people found the following review helpful
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.
99 of 115 people found the following review helpful
on June 4, 2003
When you write a book on why those WITHOUT power should be accepting of any treatment by those WITH power, you're guaranteed to sell millions of copies of said book to those WITH power. It's little wonder that managers, CEOs, teachers, and pretty much anyone with authority over others praises this book. It gives them a moral blank cheque, and condemns anyone NOT in a position of power for even questioning, to say nothing of failing to conform.
If you want a crash course in what's wrong with humanity, read this book. The fact that there are people in this world who read and agree with it is horrific.
244 of 290 people found the following review helpful
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.
453 of 542 people found the following review helpful
on August 27, 2003
I found this book to be yet another one of those books churned out by the machines of middle management, and handed down to the employee. Most of these books BECOME best sellers because they are sold in bulk to corporations for pennies on the dollar. Notice how this book has "companion" pieces of merchandise, like games, a web site, and training seminars? They are selling a complete product line to ineffective management, and look at the book as more of a large business card/advertisement.
This becomes evident when you read the stories and parables that surprise me that it took two authors to write only 96 pages. The writing is haphazard, poorly edited, unhelpful, sends mixed signals, and boils down to a rather insensitive "Things change, get used to it, change or you will die. Now keep moving." I would never give this to an employee, because that would be like giving an employee a stick of deodorant and wondering why they've stopped talking to you. This book does not care about the reader, and if I got it, I'd think, "Is my boss telling me to move on?" Comparing people to mice, and life's goals to cheese is patronizing to anyone with a sense of self-awareness. The motivational parables are generic, and seem out of place to the rest of the scare tactic this book is.
There are better motivational books out there that are written by experienced people who have good ideas that are helpful, not doom-obsessed. This book is more of a poke in the back with a sharp stick than a carrot on the end of s string, or a light at the end of the tunnel. In fact, this book might as well say, "You better not go to the light at the end of the tunnel, it could go away at any moment, and then where will you be?" Like another reviewer here said, "[the book] offers no answer other than you've got to go out and find more 'cheese" for yourself.'" Anyone who has reached the age of adulthood, and doesn't realize that change is inevitable will certainly never get the message from this book. And those that do know will only think this book is redundant and almost encouraging bitterness. I don't know what the point of this book really is, except as some sort of gloomy pap.
This book is already mostly used up, and will never be remembered like Zig Ziglar or Thomas Harris. Scout around, and find some older books, by successful people (like people who have actually succeeded in life that you have heard of), that have been around for a while. People still buy them for a reason.