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.
‘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.