So They Say: Who Moved My Cheese


Cheese, or more accurately stated the varying availability of cheese, is the embodiment of change in this quick read narrative. Sniff, Scurry, Hem and Haw awake to find their world changed, their cheese is gone. How they react and how they adapt analogs how different mindsets manage an unplanned change, how those who recognize change is coming thrive even in the face of the unknown and how we can carry the lessons from one change in our life forward to other changes.

My Thoughts

cheese cover‘Cheese’ is the first book on change management I was ever introduced to. When it was released in 1998 it was the go to example for trying to manage organizations in flux. Spencer Johnson was the true pioneer of the change management self help genre. Because of how deep this book was in the culture when I was starting out I just assumed this was still introduced to everyone in college, or sooner, but realizing how few of my younger friends and clients even knew it existed,  is why I chose ‘Cheese’ for my first book post.

I will admit it, when I read this book nearly 20 years ago I thought it was stupid, cutesy and useless. I now see it is just the opposite. It is right on the money. There truly are four personalities of change, and I work with them all every day.

Type 1 – Loves change, is always looking at their environment and noticing what is on the horizon. I love to work with these kind of people because they have an energy and excitement to them when they see a new way and are excited to see where it leads.

Type 2 – Accepts change as a reality, will adapt to it, but are not going to seek change for the sake of change. They are a little more hesitant to see what is coming (higher denial level than a type 1), but once they recognize the need they jump on board. I like working with this personality type. They are loyal to the mission, but they do take more energy from me or the group. They have a tendency to want to slip back, unintentionally, into wanting to hold on to “that’s how we’ve always done it”, but when reminded that is where they are headed they self correct and keep moving forward.

Type 3 – Oh my Type 3’s. This is where I earn my pay. This group has a lot more inter-group variation than the other types, and as a result sometimes I can win them over and sometimes they are the saboteurs. Type 3’s don’t like change, they resist change, but where they are on the spectrum of Type 3 is what determines the outcome. All Type 3’s are ‘prove it to me’s’. You cannot talk to this group about the HOW until you have solidly won them over on the WHY. They must see value, they must have all the reasons explained to them, they must understand in great detail how it will impact them. Until you get them comfortable with the change’s value you will not get them onboard. They can often come across as uncooperative or beligerent, but in reality they are just the opposite. When you finally get a Type 3 to buy into an idea they are your biggest advocate and greatest ally. The hard part is getting them there, and you won’t get all of them all. If I can get 50-75% of my Type 3’s on board I consider a project an overwhelming success, because they tip the organizations balance. The 50% we get from the Types 1 and 2 put us on the verge and the Type 3’s are what make critical mass.

Type 4 – It just isn’t going to happen and we all know it. If you only go forward with a change if they have to approve it or buy in you might as well never even start. No matter what you do, what you say or how accountable, they are held they will never agree it is a good idea. Does this mean that with enough force you cant get them to follow the new path? No. When held accountable they will very much obey, but that is typically what it is, obeying and begrudgingly following along. You all have one of these people in your business or family. They tend to be older, and though some may disagree in my experience they tend to also be male. They always remind me of Statler and Waldorf (the guys in the balcony) from the Muppets, or for the younger generation, Jeff Dunham’s puppet Walter. No idea is ever right unless it is theirs and even their own ideas they challenge when you suggest a team follow it.

Who Moved My Cheese offers a lot of good, useable insight into how to co-exist with each of the types, as well as how to motivate and manage them. But for the me the fun in any of these type of books is to try to identify yourself. Once you identify which type you are determine if you are happy with being that person or if you are ready to change your mindset.

Would love to hear your views on this book. Come visit the TSCWTN Facebook page and share your thoughts! I’ll bring the cheese.


Random Ramblings: Can We Do It, Yes We Can!!!

Bob the builder was the 1990’s champion of leadership. He was a great motivator and he was a great believer in outcome. He never once said “I think maybe we can do it” or “Yes I can”. Bob knew Bob_the_builderthat every change, personal or business, impacted everyone around him. He knew he couldn’t build a building without it affecting the neighbors or change jobs without it impacting his family. Change is not an island, and change cannot happen if only one person believes it is possible.Belief in outcome has weighed heavily on my mind lately, both in my work and my personal life.

I have been trying to figure out how I can have two similar firms; both of the same size, same services and same challenges, yet one can be very successful in re- inventing themselves and another can perpetually struggle. I have always bought into the notion that it was primarily a factor of leadership from the top. I thought that if the CEO was on board with the change and held people accountable, it would work. If they weren’t, it wouldn’t work. Lately, however, I have had that notion tested.

I was stumped by a new client where the company leader said and did the right things, he sat in all the meetings, he held his employees to task, but still wasn’t gaining traction. I have come to realize there is another component which is belief in outcome.

You can call it trust, you can call it faith, but it is belief that the goal is achievable. You can realize it will be hard, you can realize there will be many challenges, but you have to believe it is achievable. That belief needs to be to your core, not just words or hope. We have always heard “never let them see you sweat” but I realize now what we as leaders need to project is “never let them see you doubt”, and even more importantly “never let yourself doubt”.

For this particular CEO, his answers to questions gave away his uncertainty to his team and it spread. Too often his answer to how they would do something involved “I think we can” instead of “I know we can’. When faced with concerns from his team about how they would gain buy in from reticent co-workers his answers were soft and didn’t provide the comfort needed to build confidence that the hurdle could be overcome. He wasn’t sure he could get there and was never able to solidify certainty in his firm.

Doubt, or questioning the outcome, is a much bigger deterrent to success than fear, workload or resources. My firms who are successful at change don’t have any magic formula except they believe they can get there, and then keep that belief throughout the project.

I have watched this play out in my own life lately, too. You knew I would get to horses fast didn’t you? I have been trying to figure out why my riding and my learning to ride seemed to have stalled or was going backwards for about the last 8 months. I had been making great progress and then it stalled. My trot was not as good as it had been, my lope wasn’t happening at all and I found a lot of excuses. I had a new horse. I had a car accident and injuries. I was super busy with work and wasn’t riding as much.

I had lots of reasons but not an answer. I wasn’t happy with me or my riding so I decided to look in another direction. I did just what drives me nuts with my clients, change the tool to try to solve something deeper. For me that meant trying riding lessons with an additional trainer. I thought I needed to hear things differently or that I needed to have someone fix my skills. I went, it worked and I had great rides. I loped, I trotted, I did things I hadn’t been doing. But as I tried to figure out why, I got more confused. The trainer didn’t really say much new in my lesson. He didn’t show me much different from what I was hearing and doing at home. He didn’t have a magic wand or fairy dust to ‘fix me’. He did put me on a different horse, but he pointed out right away it wasn’t the horse, that my next lesson would be a different horse and I would still be loping. So what was it?

It took me two trips to Texas before I got it. It was a change in my belief in outcome. I wasn’t allowed to believe anything would happen but success. Every time I questioned if I could do something I was told to “shut up and just do it”. When I said I had not loped over poles more than once in my life the trainer looked at me and said “that’s nice now go do it”. Did I believe it would happen at first? Nope, and when I tried and that doubt sunk in that it would fall apart, my horse would break gait, we would hit the poles and I would become unseated. But when I doubted, the trainer kept the faith. Did he just feed me empty words or tell me I would succeed when I couldn’t? Heck no. He told me what I did wrong, he told me to do it right and try again. Eventually I did it and proved my own disbelief wrong. And once I got it right the first time he made me do it over and over. Not until we were technically perfect, but until I realized I could do it. He kept repeating my success until I believe for myself that I could lope, that I had had the skill all along if I got out of my own head. I wasn’t allowed to stop until I realized I could show at the level I want to someday, until I believed I had it in me. We rode until I changed the dialog in my head.

I carried that dialog home with me and I changed as a rider that day and I changed as a person. I changed my dialog from “I can’t” to “I’m not there yet but I can get there”. I may not be loping the trail pattern on Jasmine yet, but I know now I have it in me and we will get there. I may not have the Master’s degree I want, but I know I can get there.

I now believe in the outcome and that changes everything.

And so it begins…

‘They’re So Cute When They’re New’ is one of my favorite sayings when I meet a new client. On day one they are so optimistic, they are so energetic, they have so much faith blog startin themselves and their ability to change. Eveyrthing seems possible and everything seems easy. Then as my boss points out, they meet me. It is my job to be the voice of reason; the one that tells them how much time, work and effort it is going to take to reach their goals, how their difficult team members aren’t going to miraculously jump on board overnight and how this is going to be a hard journey.

Luckily no one has come along and told me all that about this blog yet. I am in that giddy happy smiley stage where I believe everyone still thinks I am brilliant and this is a great idea. Where I picture them running and telling their friends about this great new website they have to visit and the Facebook page I created for the blog will get 100,000 likes overnight. I will always have time to write and I will always have something entertaining to say. This is going to be a piece of cake. Right?

Most changes we choose start out this way. Whether it is a business venture, a new love interest, buying a house, or even going off to college. The changes we choose (as opposed to those that choose us) start off with a bang. They are bright shiny packages that we can’t wait to open. They leave us feeling like we have the tiger by the tail and can take on the world. We are invincible. No challenge is beyond us. Why can’t it stay that way?

It can’t stay that way because change worth having takes work. It takes effort. It takes sacrifice. No new baby is born without the agonies of pregnancy and delivery, no new home is bought without the misery of house shopping, appraisals and closings, no great new summit is reached without climbing the mountain and no rainbows exist without someone getting wet.

But I will save the hard part, the serious part, for upcoming posts. For now welcome to my blog, to my change, to my life!!!