Research Proposal: Human Resources Assessment of the Book

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Human Resources

Assessment of the Book

Who Moved My Cheese by Ken Blanchard

While change is inevitable in everyone's life, the reaction we choose to change is completely our own decision. The book, Who Moved My Cheese? By Spencer Johnson begins with a class reunion where friends discuss how much their lives have changed from high school after a reunion the previous day. The friends discuss how their lives turned out completely different than what they had planned, each recalling how their decisions, some good, some bad, had defined where they were at the present time. Micheal offers to tell the story of ":Who Moved My Cheese," and the remainder of the book focuses on the narrative he provides. Focusing on four characters, two of which are mice, Sniff and Scurry, and two people, Hem and Haw, the story unfold showing how people either anticipate and react positively to change or attempt to ignore it and resist change as inherently bad. From this foundational element of the story, the author successfully shows how personal change is critical for growth (Eriksen, 2008).

The cheese in the story is the catalyst of motivation in peoples' lives, whether it is money, an impressive professional position, free time, or possessions including a large house, cars, boats or any other factor or item. When the "cheese" is disrupted, the story shows how individuals manage their reaction to change. The mice characters, Sniff and Scurry, anticipate and quickly modify their behavior to find cheese, while Hem is the epitome of what resistance to change looks like in a person. Haw on the other hand strikes out on his own to find cheese and writes the lessons learned on the walls of the maze. In this way the author is attempting to create an allegory of paying attention to "handwriting on the wall" when it comes to managing change. This paper analyzes the major differences in how people manage change at a personal level.

Books' Purpose and Key Questions the Author Is Addressing

The inevitability of change is illustrated throughout the book, with a strong focus on how a person's reaction is more important than the magnitude of the change itself. In essence the author shows through examples that ones' reaction to change is more important than the severity of the change itself. It is in interpreting change and choosing to internalize the necessary responses to it that the most adaptable and successful mindset is achieved (Eriksen, 2008). In choosing "cheese" as the metaphor for what drives and motive people to achieve, the author successfully shows how internal conflicts can paralyze people if they are resistant to change (Elias, 2009).

While it would have been more appropriate to first discuss what the "cheese" or motivators are that galvanize people to first focus on resistance to change, the authors instead assume that these motivators are strong enough to make many people resist any change to their status quo, even in the face of obvious evidence. The author does this very well with the written lessons on the wall provided by Haw. He documents in essence the urgency for change, in the lessons he learns as he goes through the maze. The "maze" are the many strategies that people use to gain their "cheese" of reward of their choice. The relevancy of the motivator or cheese is critical for the two basic premises of the book.

The attention to "cheese" or motivators is also crucial to the two foundational questions that serve as the foundation of the book, which are "Why are you pursing the goals you are pursing?" And "What would you do if you were not influenced by fears?" Through the use of these two questions as the catalyst of behaviors of the forward-thinking and change-accepting mice, Sniff and Scurry vs. The resistant-to-change character Hem, the author shows why the intrepid nature of Haw is critical for anyone looking to bring positive change into their lives. When all four characters are faced with responding to the two questions in their lives, their reactions illustrate the range of responses people have to unwanted and often unforeseen change in their lives.

From these foundational elements of the story the key lessons learned emerge. The complacency of Hem is seen as actually one of the key factors that blind him from being able to change. From his lack of being vigilant about what is happening to his "cheese" he actually invites more change than he is prepared to undertake. His complacency actually invites panic as he is not prepared to deal with the loss of cheese once it happens. Conversely for Sniff and Scurry there is the continual need for changing, for becoming more attuned to the status of their cheese and its continual change over time. Sniff and Scurry realize that everything changes, even their cheese. In their characters is the message from the author to stay always vigilant as to the motivators in a person's life, not only from their availability but also their relevancy. Hem conversely has never considered the fact that his "cheese" would ever be gone.

The aspect of managing fear in the face of change is well presented in the book as well. When his cheese is taken away Hem immediately becomes fearful and wants to ignore change all the more. Haw sees this as a signal to move beyond fears and become freer as a result. The lesson learned from this part of the book is that constant change is inevitable and that the greatest source of change anyone has is themselves (Eriksen, 2008).

Haw also shows that overcoming his fear of change leads to an entirely new set of beliefs that lead to entirely new sets of behaviors as well. These behaviors re-shape his perception of reality and change itself is no longer to be feared; it is to be mastered and used for defining entirely new sets of goals. The key lesson learned is that imagining and envisioning change can lead to significantly greater risks and rewards as a result. Haw has set into motion in his life a continual exploration of new avenues for growth and therefore is on his way to mastering change. This is the most powerful aspect of his personality and quest for managing change positively relative to Haw. Hem begins to make change an integral part of how he approaches life. Meanwhile Sniff and Scurry, to survive, must embrace change as the literal "cheese" once moved, is essential to their survival. The lesson from this is that one must change and adapt or risk dying. In fact this lesson pervades the many other throughout the book.

Another aspect of this book is the definition of just what the "cheese" is, how it can change over time, and the fact that the "cheese" in a person's life can take on a life of its own. This is the most formidable aspect of the book, as it forces the reader to re-evaluate just what their "cheese" is and what it means to them from the standpoint of their lives. It also forces the uncomfortable question of how a person's life is completely wrapped around the pursuit of "cheese" often without knowing if the cheese itself is in its assumed condition or has somehow significantly been modified or changed.

Another subtle point of the book is that for change to be as positive and as quickly responded to by the group in total, as is illustrated by the quick response of Sniff and Scurry. This illustrates the management principle that for change to be as positive, impactful and immediate as possible, it requires complete commitment of an entire team (Elias, 2009). The two mice, Sniff and Scurry are in fact a "team" and quickly move to make change as… [END OF PREVIEW]

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