Moved My Cheese? What Is the Book Book Report

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¶ … moved my cheese?

What is the book about?

Who Moved My Cheese? By Spencer Johnson presents a powerful metaphor for the types of attitudes that can cause success or peril in business or in life. The four characters in the story are two rats (Sniff and Scurry) and two humans (Hem and Haw) who feed on cheese to survive. From a business perspective, we can assume that this cheese represents the revenue a business needs to operate, stay healthy and grow. After traveling through a maze looking for cheese, the four characters come across a seemingly abundant supply in Cheese Station C. This, of course, represents a market where sales are strong and are providing a steady stream of income.

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How Sniff, Scurry, Hem and Haw react to the supply of cheese in Cheese Station C. separates them as characters. Hem and Haw never think about the future and always assume that there will be cheese in Cheese Station C; they simply come and eat their fill each day. Sniff and Scurry have mentally accepted that the cheese will not always be there, and are prepared to find new cheese when the supply runs out. In business, this is the difference between looking to the future and having vision, versus remaining stuck in the present or past. When the cheese runs out, Sniff and Scurry simply move on and search for new cheese, while Hem and Haw can not accept that change has occurred and keep waiting for Cheese Station C. To be filled again. Some businesses, of course, are often slow to react to change and instead continue doing things as they've always been done. Eventually, Haw comes to accept that change has occurred and that he must find new cheese. Hem never does, and we are left to contemplate three characters who will survive because they have accepted change, and one who may not because he is stuck in the past.

2. With which one of the characters (Sniff, Scurry, Hem, or Haw) do you currently align yourself? Why?

Book Report on Moved My Cheese? What Is the Book Assignment

While Sniff and Scurry were the more enviable characters in the story, I would probably have to align myself more with Haw. His character is situated more in the middle between resisting change and boldly accepting it. In fact, I think many people in business identify with Haw, and Spencer probably intended this character to represent many U.S. businesses.

I think it is a real challenge to adopt the attitudes we saw from Sniff and Scurry in the book. They are considering new cheese supplies while there is still an abundance of cheese in Cheese Station C. They are already planning for the end, which is visionary, but also very difficult in practice. Imagine 5-10 years ago sitting in a board room for one of the major automakers, which were watching the sport utility vehicle market boom, and loudly proclaiming that the market could not sustain us long-term and that we must aggressively search for new sources of revenue. You would have been right (the SUV market is not what it once was), but there is also a good chance you would have been shouted down or decried as a pessimist or alarmist.

I think it is easier for me, and maybe for most people in business, to recognize and accept change once it has occurred. There is something about the business mind that makes us want to quantify that change is occurring before we accept it and make appropriate modifications. But before that change occurs, and while the cheese (or revenue) is still abundant, I think there is a tendency to try to ride that market out and milk it for as much as possible. it's easy to get caught up in that and not spend enough time planning for change.

3. Could you have previously aligned yourself with any other characters? Tell which one(s) and why.

Although I currently identify more with Haw, I think that I have probably exhibited characteristics of Sniff, Scurry and Hem at various points in my life. I was probably more life Sniff and Scurry in my youth, but not necessarily in a mature and visionary way. It is easy to be capricious in youth, and to have a tendency to want to constantly move on to the next big thing. I was certainly that way when I was younger, but it was fueled more by boredom or a need for adventure than a mature appreciation of change. Sniff and Scurry, after all, stayed with Cheese Station C. until that market had been fully tapped. As a young person, I probably would have left while it was still half filled with cheese.

I think we all can act like Hem sometimes when we start reflecting on things such as social justice. I can imagine times in my life when I would have thought that I worked hard to attain something and that no one had the right to take it from me. From Hem's perspective, he worked hard to locate cheese and he may have felt it unjust that one day the cheese would be gone. it's easy to see how I, or anyone else, would dig in their heels in such a situation. but, in business, of course, no one owes you a living. A variety of forces can make the cheese, or sales, disappear, and it is counterproductive to act stubbornly when such change occurs. So, while we all may have felt like Hem at points in our lives, it can be perilous to adopt too much of his attitude or to carry it for too long. It is fine to be frustrated at the loss of cheese, but it is not permissible to do nothing about it.

4. Have you known other persons that you would align with the characters? Tell me about them and why.

I think that at every company in America, there is at least one very prominent Hem, who is completely resistant to change. Often, Hem will have been with the organization for a good length of time and will think that he or she knows everything. Hem is the person who shoots down everyone's ideas at meetings or enthusiastically explains why those ideas will not work. Although Hem may be a valued member of the company - simply by virtue of his or her tenure there - the company may not always realize what a destructive influence Hem is having on operations and how disempowering Hem's presence may be. I can honestly say there has been a Hem at every place I have ever worked.

I have known some Sniff and Scurry characters at work as well, although the characteristics these people have exhibited are not universally positive. The Sniff and Scurry characters at places I have worked are the 'big picture' people - the 'idea' people, if you will. These people often have a very clear view of the company's mission; its strengths and weaknesses, and the strengths and weaknesses of the company's competitors; and which opportunities the company needs to pursue. These big picture people, in my experience, are not always very organized or detail-oriented, and may not be great at doing the nitty-gritty work that is needed to implement a new direction. The Sniff and Scurry characters in the workplace are very valuable because they see the opportunities and provide vision, but, in the end, a company still needs good rank-and-file employees to implement these new visions.

5. What lesson(s) did you learn from the book that might apply in your life?

I think the most powerful business lesson in Who Moved My Cheese? is that no one owes you a living. No matter how hard you have worked in business to attain the successes you have today, there… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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