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Book Review

Who Moved My Cheese?

Spencer Johnson (1998), Putnam Publishing Group ($13.95)

©  Fred Nickols 2012


After considerable reflection, I recently and reluctantly purchased a copy of Who Moved My Cheese?  It is a best-seller, authored by Spencer Johnson, M.D., who, along with Ken Blanchard, co-authored another best-seller, The One-Minute Manager.  After reading it, I concluded that my reluctance to buy it was warranted. 

Who Moved My Cheese? is another in a series of books falling into the genre of “let’s make life simpler than it really is.”  When I first read The One-Minute Manager, I put it down and mused to myself, “This is one of the most dangerous books I’ve ever read.”  Why?  Because The One-Minute Manager is a book that presents life at work, especially life at work as a manager, as a problem easily solved – if you can be what many of us have always wanted; namely, that idealized father figure we might call “the perfect Pop.” That is the essence of The One-Minute Manager: a facile description of the perfect Pop.  (Please note that I did not say that it was a practical prescription for how to be the perfect Pop.)  But I digress.  Back to Who Moved My Cheese? 

The long and the short of Spencer Johnson’s latest “let me make it simple for you” book is that we need to adapt to change.  Gee.  What a remarkable insight.  The senior executives of this country (“The swells who run the show,” to borrow a phrase from the musical, Les Miserables) will no doubt love it.  (Indeed, if bulk sales are any indicator, they certainly do.)  Why?  Because Spencer’s book puts the onus for adapting to change on those who have it imposed on them instead of those who impose it.  In effect, it’s a “Get on board or else” message.  Frankly, I think the book is mistitled.  It should be titled, They Moved Their Cheese – Again.  Of course, that would reveal an ugly truth, namely, that life is all about getting and keeping your own cheese instead of constantly running the maze looking for cheese that someone else controls.  God forbid you should learn that lesson. 

Consider the title: Who moved my cheese?  To be perfectly honest, if I find anyone tampering with my cheese, I'll break their freakin’ legs (hands, too).  To be fair, the book points out that we human beings tend to think of their cheese as our cheese.  Not me.  My cheese is my cheese and their cheese is their cheese.  Actually, that’s not a bad analogy or metaphor or whatever.  The trick in life is converting their cheese into my cheese.  I can move my cheese all I want but they’d better not touch my cheese. 

In the last analysis, the message of the book is even simpler than the book: “Change Happens” (So, get used to it).


Cover of Who Moved My Cheese

Link to Amazon.com


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This page last updated on June 27, 2015