Who Moved my Cheese? Who Cares?

If you read a lot of business books you have likely read “Who Moved My Cheese” (WMMC) by Spencer Johnson. The book spent 200 weeks on the Bestseller list and has sold 26 million copies in 37 languages. I assume the inhabitants of Burkina Faso (who speak Mossi) likely didn’t get a translated copy; well – maybe one day. But this post is not about how great WMMC is but rather how great it isn’t. I always felt the book was condescending to the reader. It makes the assumption that most people can’t anticipate or cope with change. Change is the most constant thing in life…what successful business person cannot handle change?

Some managers are known to mass-distribute copies of the book to employees, some of whom see this as an insult, or an attempt to characterize dissent as not “moving with the cheese”. In the corporate environment, management has been known to distribute this book to employees during times of “structural reorganization,” or during cost-cutting measures, in an attempt to portray unfavorable or unfair changes in an optimistic or opportunistic way. This misuse of the book’s message is seen by some as an attempt by organizational management to make employees quickly and unconditionally assimilate management ideals, even if they may prove detrimental to them professionally.

If you haven’t already read WMMC…don’t! Consider yourself lucky that you never lost that hour of your life and be thankful this bible of business never darkened your door. I want a book to teach me something, to enlighten me or to posit new ideas; clearly WMMC is not a book capable of that lavish request.