Book Review: Spencer Johnson, Who Moved My Cheese?: An A-Mazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life (1998).

I blame Who Moved My Cheese for the slew of copycat animal parables that followed through the last decade. I also think that Cheese is a seriously overrated book, not only because the message is simple – not deceptively simple, just plain simple.  I also found the parable itself confusing and poorly written, trying to figure out which were the people and which were the mice (seriously, the mice!).  Nothing I’m going to say is going to bother authors who’ve sold millions of these books, but the bottom line is that Cheese is really a terrible book that somehow caught a headwind and became an undeserved business classic.

So Who Moved My Cheese? has become a staple in modern management bookcases, a parable about management inexplicably involving a maze, some cheese, some mice, and some people. The whole fairy tale is distracting and strained – it doesn’t really work to explain the concepts of the book, so I’m just going to ignore it in this review.

The purpose of the book is to educate the reader on the choices we have to deal with change in our lives.  The concept is fairly obvious, namely that we become attached to the status quo, particularly where a particular methodology has been successful for us.  Therefore, the more successful we become, the more attached we get.  The more attached we get, the more we resist the possibility of changing – “why change something that’s been working for me for so long?”  Moreover, we become blind to the need to change, because we view new experiences through the prism of our past experiences.

How to avoid this?  The authors suggest the following:

1.  Accept that change happens, and that it’s unavoidable.

2.  Anticipate potential changes, by keeping your eyes open and avoiding becoming blinded by your own success.

3.  Monitor change, by carefully attending to signs that your way of doing things is becoming outdated.

4.  Adapt to change quickly, and take control of your reaction to change.

5.  Change when needed, and don’t let your attachment to your old ways inhibit your ability to change.

6.  Enjoy the experience of changing.

7.  Repeat the process.

That’s it.  Those are the lessons.  If you can read through those seven bullet points, I just saved you from having to read the book.


Even though I don’t like the book, the lessons are valuable for real estate agents who confront massive technological change in their business every year.  Essentially, the book tells us that we have to adapt to changes in our business, and that we can’t be tied to the old ways of doing things. I’m not sure that’s a lesson that people haven’t learned, but maybe it’s worth repeating.