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A Global Business Fable Phenomenon

A Global Business Fable Phenomenon

Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson

The full title of the book is Who Moved My Cheese? An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life and was written by Dr. Spencer Johnson and published in 1998 by G P Putnam’s Sons.  (In 1938 George Palmer Putnam joined John Wiley in founding the firm of Wiley & Putnam. 10 years later they split, both building their own successful publishing company. J Wiley & Sons are the publishers of my business fable).

Who Moved My Cheese? sold 26 million copies. It remained on the New York Times best-seller list for almost five years. It spent over 200 weeks on the Publisher’s Weekly ‘s hardcover nonfiction list. And according to Wikipedia it is one of the top 100 best selling books of all time. Wow!!

My first memory of Spencer Johnson was The Value series of books he wrote in the mid 1970’s. The series of books discuss the values of life qualities such as patience, courage, fairness, imagination and numerous others.  Although a long time ago I remember the books making an indelible impression on me at the time.  I am certain the message in some way shaped my values and contributed therefore to the message in Surviving Your Serengeti. For that Spencer, I thank you!

The book Who Moved Your Cheese is basically about change management. Although only published in 1998 it is rumored that it was written many, many years earlier. For decades friends encouragement Spencer to publish the parable about Sniff and Scurry and Hem and Haw.

The fable is about mice living in a maze, looking for cheese to nourish them and keep them happy. The cheese is a metaphor for what you want to have in life – whether it is a good job, a loving relationship, money or a possession, health or spiritual peace of mind. The maze is where you look for what you want – the organization you work in, or the family or community you live in. And so the simple journey of the metaphor of two mice became a phenomenon in over 20 countries.

Spencer turned down my request for a testimonial for Surviving Your Serengeti. Not because he didn’t like my book, but apparently because I had already received a testimonial from Ken Blanchard. I was told that he did not provide “competing” testimonials on books his friend, and co-author of the One Minute Manager series, had already reviewed. Pity, as I would have loved to have his opinion on my metaphor.  So Spencer, if you ever do my read my book, please let me know what you think.

Spencer received his is M.D. from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and today splits his time between New Hampshire and Hawaii. Got to love a man that loves Hawaii!

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