Who Moved My Cheese?
by Spencer Johnson, M.D.
Book Review by Amy Coffin
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I just don't understand the hype behind this book. Supposedly, it is a valuable management tool in the vast American workforce. Many well known nationally recognized companies are buying up copies and handing them out to thousands of employees.


Oh, let me explain the "story" a bit and maybe somebody can point out the value of its scant 94-page message, at $20.00 a pop (hardback).

The book is essentially divided into three distinct parts. The first section, The Story Behind the Story is a foreword by Kenneth Blanchard, who co-wrote another book, The One Minute Manager with Dr. Johnson.

The second little part of the book is a supposed meeting between old friends who are in town for a school reunion. As they reflect on their lives and how much they have changed, one person begins to tell the cheesy story. Oh, excuse me! I mean The Story of the Cheese.

It seems there is this little maze. I'm guessing this maze is supposed to symbolize life. Anyway, in this maze are two mice with simple brains and simple needs. Also in this maze are two humans (known as littlepeople) with complex brains and more needs.

Each morning the mice and the littlepeople head out of the maze to look for "Cheese". According to ol' Doc Johnson (the author, Spencer Johnson, M.D.), "Cheese 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." (Book jacket)

All four beings find Cheese in the same place each day. Gradually, one of the mice senses change. The Cheese isn't the same. It is of lower quality and there is less. The littlepeople sense nothing. They just keep getting up each morning and expect to find the Cheese in the same place it always is. After all, they are entitled to this Cheese, aren't they?

Whelp, one day the Cheese is gone. The mice anticipated change, so they go out in the maze in search of new Cheese. The littlepeople don't know what to do. Their Cheese is gone! Somebody stole the Cheese! Instead of adapting to the change, the littlepeople just sit there and feel sorry for themselves. Meanwhile, the mice who adapted to the change are livin' large with their newly found Cheese.

Eventually, one of the littlepeople, named "Haw," ventures out into the maze in search of new Cheese, while the other, named "Hem," sits home in denial. Get it? Hem and Haw. Oh that Doc Johnson is so clever!

Must I finish the story? Oh, ok. Eventually, everyone in the maze reacts to the Cheese change one way or another. There are those who adapt quickly to the change, and those who only hurt themselves by living in denial and refusing to change. Do they all live happily ever after with a never-ending supply of Cheese? Do I care?

This concludes my semi-neutral review of Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson, M.D. I tried to be as fair as I could about the subject matter. If you feel this book is exactly what you need in your life, then YAY! I have influenced a buying purchase. Go on your merry way.

For the rest of you, sit back and watch me rip through the biggest load of bull excrement I have even seen.

First of all, I am truly floored by the high-level whoozits that provided positive feedback for the introductory pages of this book. Did this waste of valuable trees really solve your workplace problems?

Secondly, I can't help but laugh my butt off about the symbolism here. High level managers want to give this book to their subordinates. They want them to relate to the mice in the book and quickly, happily adapt to change. Uh, hello? So you're basically saying "You're really all just rats in a maze. So why don't you read this book and quit whining when we change things around here. Thank you, the Management."

Personally, I think Cheese is an insulting metaphor for many of the life changes we face today.

We've decided to move our operations to Mexico. This department will be dissolved and your job terminated Dec. 20. Merry Christmas! Go find more Cheese.

Honey, I've decided to leave you and our four children under the age of 6. Bye. Go find more Cheese.

Sorry I totaled your car ma'am. I wish I had insurance to pay for it. Guess you'll have to go find more Cheese, huh?

What really irks me is that this author thinks everything can be solved in a minute or less. How out of touch and arrogant can you be? It seems to me, Doc Johnson hasn't managed anybody or anything in a long time.

Also irritating is that this is marketed as a "self-help" book. Where's the help? The message I got was "Change or else." I certainly don't see any help in that statement. There are lots of problems in life. I can't think of many that can fit nicely into this "Cheese" story.

Here, I am going to save you some money. I'll tell you everything you need to know regarding this book and I won't charge you a dime.

Change happens. There's nothing you can do about it. Your best bet it to try and adapt to that change. You might be scared to try something new and that's ok, just do you best. If you don't roll with the changes, you'll only hurt yourself. You'll just live in denial and never see that the grass really is greener on the other side.

You see? Message given. Message received. And I didn't kill any trees or steal your $20 and shower you with my personal drivel.

Managers, there are better ways to open up communication lines with your employees. Folks who are facing moderate to major life changes: there are better books out there to help you deal with your hurdles.

If your employees are whining because you are moving their desks again, perhaps Who Moved My Cheese? could help you relay your message to those affected.

For everyone else, please pass on this book. There are much better self-help books that actually provide help.

If you like this book, you might enjoy:
The Gas We Pass
The Gas We Pass
by Shinta Cho

Who Cut the Cheese?
Who Cut the Cheese?
by Mason Brown