I recently re-read the book Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson which is an interesting story about change. Cheese in the story represents whatever you hold dear and thus if something changes then your cheese has been moved. It could be your business, your family, a spiritual journey or a hobby. The story depicts 4 different characters and describes how each of them handles change. They are identified as follows:
- Sniff- this character is always on the lookout and sees change coming a mile away. The risk is that you may see change coming but can you pull the trigger and execute?
- Scurry- does not see change coming but when it happens he charges ahead with almost any course of action. The risk is that you move too quickly and in the wrong direction.
- Hem- refuses to see that change has occurred, over analyzes what has happened and waits for everything to get back to normal. This behavior will often freeze a business in its tracks.
- Haw- does not see change coming either and refuses to believe it at first, but then realizes what is happening, laughs at himself and moves on. The risk here is that you wait too long before you execute on the change to the detriment of your business.
Do any of these characters describe you? The bulk of the story centers on Hem and Haw. How at first they are caught off guard by the change, then how they analyze what happened and finally the course of action each of them takes. In my experience as a business advisor, I have witnessed business owners who represent each of these four character types and I can honestly say that dealing with change is often not easy.
To start looking for new cheese, to stay with the intent of the book, start by understanding that something is not the same as it was before and that this often invokes feelings of fear. So start by asking yourself the question; what would I do if I weren’t afraid? Then imagine yourself enjoying the results you achieve by making the change. What you are afraid of is usually not as bad as what you imagine it could be. Since change is inevitable be ready to laugh at yourself and move on. Sometimes the first thing that needs to change is your own behavior or view of the situation. Remember:
- Change happens
- Anticipate change
- Monitor change
- Adapt to change quickly
- Enjoy change
- Be ready to change quickly and enjoy it time and time again
If you follow these guidelines you can often stay ahead of change and avoid the unpleasantness of unplanned change.