Friday, May 13, 2011

Moldy Cheese

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss
Pete Townsend

If you find the book "Who Moved My Cheese" to be informative, inspiring or relevant, then you'd be ill advised to read any further.

If you thought, like me, that the book would be a turn of the century fad, I am sad to report that I find its advocates almost daily.

For those of you fortunate enough to have avoided reading "Who Moved My Cheese", it is a parable with two men in a maze getting fat, dumb and happy eating cheese from the same spot every day. One day, the cheese disappeared. One man eventually goes deeper into the maze in search of the cheese while the other sits and complains.

The book is rather quaint, enjoyable reading and captures the basics that I'd want my six year old to understand about reacting to change. Similarly, I want my six year old to understand the concepts of boy that cried wolf, the three little pigs and little red riding hood. However, I hope by sixteen she will understand the world as a more richly complex place than these simplistic parables and fables.

I have no issue with the author, the style or the message, but rather with the people who put more meaning into the book then it should be allotted.

It seems especially popular with newly appointed 'leaders'. These 'leaders' often view themselves as bringing great change to their organization. Generally, the only change that actually happens to the organization is the name on the 'leaders' door.

If you give a copy of "Who Moved My Cheese" to your new employees, rest assured that they will interpret it as two things. One, that you want them to recognize your new authority. Two, that they are stupid. After all, it would be the rare adult to argue with the basic principals quoted from the book:
Change Happens
They Keep Moving The Cheese
Anticipate Change
Get Ready For The Cheese To Move
Monitor Change
Smell The Cheese Often So You Know When It Is Getting Old
Adapt To Change Quickly
The Quicker You Let Go Of Old Cheese, The Sooner You Can Enjoy New Cheese
Move With The Cheese
Enjoy Change!
Savor The Adventure And Enjoy The Taste Of New Cheese!
Be Ready To Change Quickly And Enjoy It Again
They Keep Moving The Cheese.
Setting aside that your employees will be insulted, having them read the book does not help them understand HOW to make the changes. It doesn't help them SEE the changes that are occurring. It doesn't UNIFY them around a certain set of actions that will lead to a desired change.

It could BE different, but don't expect that giving out copies of Who Moved My Cheese will cause it.

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