I was recently invited to attend a leadership change seminar which considering the current climate is very appropriate! Now I have quite a bit of Change Management experience through my time learning ITIL. In fact, one of the earliest “fixes” I did at my current employer was the institution of a CAB process for all of the regular weekly changes.
However, a CAB process is only one part of change and while an understanding of change management is important for everyone, I thought that there might be a better introduction I could provide to my own team on what change is.
Luckily there was – namely the book Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson and Kenneth Blanchard.
Now you might remember both of them from another older book called The New One Minute Manager which was published quite a few years ago? In the One Minute Manager, some basic guiding principles for management were discussed. These were simple truths like providing feedback in private instead of calling out an employee in public.
I’ll probably explore that book in more depth in a future post, to be honest as while it is somewhat dated, it has some excellent lessons for new managers and is presented in a very easy to understand manner.
Who Moved My Cheese is presented in a similar manner but this time instead of teaching us management lessons explains how four characters deal with a love of cheese while living in a maze.
The Characters of Who Moved My Cheese
Our key players in this book are a bit of a mixed cast. We have Scurry and Sniff – two mice and Hem and Haw – two humans. While all of the characters share a love for “cheese”, how they choose to go about finding it on its loss is what makes the characters distinctive and interesting. When the cheese is moved Scurry and Sniff immediately search it out and start navigating the maze. Hem and Haw however spend lots of time simply bemoaning their fate and wondering why this change happened.
Cheese is a metaphor for what you want to have in life. It could be a good job, a loving relationship, money, or health. The very core message of the book is this: things constantly change so we must adapt. The quicker we adapt a change the more satisfied we will be with ourselves and life.
The Lessons To Learn
Who Moved My Cheese is a very simple book and one that is extremely easy to read. It is in fact a book my whole family read on a beach holiday and made for some very interesting conversations afterward! While the book is easy, there are some very powerful lessons that it delivers which are worth understanding.
They keep moving the cheese. Companies constantly change products and services based on changing customer demands and competition. Regardless of your role either as a consumer or employee, bemoaning your fate will not change it.
If you know that change is inevitable, it is much easier to be prepared to deal with changing circumstances. While the current COVID19 situation might be something no one could anticipate, other situations can be planned for. Even in this circumstance, possible disaster recovery scenarios could be considered which can minimize the overall impact on yourself and your business.
And the next time that times are a-changing? Reflect on your previous mistakes and don’t let those changes surprise you! Recall that no matter how secure something feels, you should always expect change to happen.
Because when you expect change (both gradual and sudden) to happen, you’ll better monitor and anticipate it early. And when you monitor and anticipate change early, you’ll find it easier to adapt to it quickly.
Smell the cheese often so you know when it’s getting old. Understand and monitor the status of your business and operations through dashboards and reports. If you do not have this capability look at tools like HubSpot and their free CRM products to get started. Once this has been implemented, look at 80/20 (Pareto principle) analysis of your customers, their cases and issues, and even your sales to see where you need to focus.
Adapt to Change
The quicker you let go of old cheese the sooner you can enjoy new cheese. Simply remaining focused on what was will not get you to what can be. It is important to step away from an analysis and purview about the grass being greener, but rather deal with the current situation.
Move with the cheese and come up with new and innovative solutions for problems. While this might sound simpler than it is, as you perform each of the previous steps to future changes you’ll find that this step comes simpler.
Once you’ve gotten used to changing with changing circumstances, you’ll actually be in a new paradigm. One where you actually start to embrace and enjoy change.
When change happens, the first thing to realise is that how you react is your choice. The biggest barrier to change is inside you.
The second thing to realise is that the best way to deal with change is to keep things simple, be flexible and move quickly. When change comes along simply change with it.
- “Where am I likely to find the best opportunities, fighting this change or embracing it?”
- “What could my life look like if these new circumstances led to something even better than the ones that I’m leaving?” and
- ”What would I do if I wasn’t afraid I might fail?”
The Lessons to Take Away
Who Moved My Cheese is a simple book but one that is quite interesting and informative. Its ultimate conclusion? Change is inevitable. Anticipate it, adapt to it, learn to embrace and enjoy it. Do so and you won’t just suffer less stress and unhappiness, you’ll enjoy more success and fulfillment in every part of your life and your work. I’d definitely pick it up as it’s not that expensive and while its a very short read, the lessons you take away from it, will last you for years.
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