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on June 10, 2003
"If this wasn't so rediculous, it'd be even funnier." -- Who Moved My Cheese
This audiobook was given to me, along with a number of other coping-with-trying-times resources, by one of my many middle managers in the midst of a merger. With an open mind I gave it a shot. What did I have to loose, except my job?
This book is an over-simplistic metaphor for unexpected change that is beyond one's control, in which "cheese" is a symbol of something you want, ie: happiness, security, financial resources. The message the authors attempt to convey is that your future, success, security, and ultimately happiness is within your control. While this may be PARTLY true, the tone of the childlike story is so condescending (an unintended byproduct of the tale's simplification, I suspect), one could easily get the feeling it was penned by the committee representing CEOs Happily Unopposed to Bad Behavior (CHUBB).
The book amplifies feelings of rejection and betrayal by the faceless "Cheese Removers". It raises many questions like, "What if I was counting on that cheese for future use", but offers no answer other than you've got to go out and find more "cheese" for yourself, even though everything you had was just taken from you for no apparent reason. To me (and many others) this was not an inspiring read. It was painful.
This book was destined to be a best seller because, no doubt, it can be ordered by the box-load by those anticipating removing others' cheese. Sure, the message is a fine one, it's the delivery that flat-out stinks.
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on June 6, 2004
I don't know that I've ever read a book that so accurately depicts the fears and anxieties associated with change. The book itself is witty and somewhat humorous, yet it's deep enough to provoke intense reflection and self evaluation if you allow it to. The storyline itself includes four characters who live in a maze and look for cheese to nourish them and make them happy. Two of the characters are mice named Sniff and Scurry. The other two are little people the size of mice who act a lot like real people do. Their names are Hem and Haw. The most thought provoking aspect of this book is that it allows each individual to draw conclusions based on their own individual situations relative to "the maze" and "the cheese". "The cheese" is a metaphor for what you want to have in life. "The maze" is symbolic for where you look for what you want in life. In this story, all of the characters are faced with unexpected change. As time passes, one of the characters deals with it successfully and writes what he has learned from his experiences on the wall. In short the message appears to be that when you see the "writing on the wall" you need to know how to deal with change. We all may have a different "maze" in life and may pursue different "cheese" in life,yet, the moral of the story is just the same. Noticing small changes early helps you adapt to the bigger changes later.
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on March 13, 2003
It amazes me how stating the obvious can lead to a hugely successful book. Hey, life is full of changes --- well, how about that? It isn't like this is a huge revelation to most people. We have all had our highs and lows; such is the human condition.
What makes me regard this book as a pile of garbage is the idea that managers can somehow lull their hapless employees into some sort of reflective passivity just before dropping some bomb on them. I know that my first reaction, when my manager plopped this pile on my desk, was one of cynicism more than anything else. Trying to soften the blow, eh? If you are a manager looking to frighten or irritate employees, then this is the book for you.
Also, the idea that "change" is something to be accepted as inevitable and part of the ebb and flow of life offends me. Should the Nazis have handed this book out at Auschwitz to the inmates as they entered the camp? "Arbeit Macht Frei" equals "Who Moved My Cheese" as far as I am concerned. Change may be inevitable, but it doesn't mean that sometimes you shouldn't fight like hell to keep change in its place.
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on January 13, 2003
I spent seven years in the corporate/workforce training field, and never reached lower points than my run-ins with this unfortunately popular piece of tripe. My job was to train employees in the use of extremely complex software systems � training that required deep analytical thinking by the employees. I was never more distressed than to teach a high-impact software class to a group of people who had been exposed to �Who Moved My Cheese� in the recent past by another trainer. Any company that thinks this book is useful in the training or motivation of employees epitomizes everything that is wrong with corporate education today. This book does contain a useful premise in how employees have to deal with change and competition in the workplace. However, distilling these important matters into the inane parable of mice in a maze is a device meant for grade school students. Parables are used to teach complicated topics to kids. But using a parable to teach an important but non-complex topic to freethinking adults who are smart enough to get a job at a corporation is as nonsensical as it is insulting to their intelligence. Any company that subjects their employees to this dribble (plus the dreaded �group activities� that go with it) is too concerned with weak trends and not concerned enough about encouraging independent and intelligent thought among their employees. If you work for a company that makes you read this book, consider working elsewhere because they obviously don�t think you�re very smart.
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on June 18, 2002
To: Scurry
From: Special Operations Orientation Committee
Re: Missing cheese
It has come to our attention that substantial quantities of corporate cheese have been moved unaccountably from our treasury, jeopardizing the eating habits to which our courageous leaders are accustomed. Contrary to the baseless rumors that have been circulating through the colony, the aforesaid cheese was tangibly present in the vault before its disappearance.
As you know, our brilliant leaders require copious amounts of cheese to keep their brains at peak activity. Now, more than ever, we need them to maintain their dazzling track record of entrepreneurial foresight and initiative. Not to worry! We plan to move cheese from several off-balance-sheet enterprises to the corporate vault in order to fund our generous leaders' emergency compensation packages. This will only partially make up for the losses our self-sacrificing leaders have sustained on expiring cheese warrants. Cheese-backed debentures in the aforesaid off-balance-sheet enterprises will be serviced by assets that we are confident will materialize from dairy operations in an upcoming stack of reverse blind-pool mergers, as well as strategic divestitures. Our ingenious leaders never fail to amaze!
We believe this would be an appropriate time for you to scurry on to a new colony. Unfortunately, due to the current shortage, we are not in a position to offer you any severance cheese. However, all departing mice will receive a parting gift from the overstock of rotting fish carcasses that have remained unsold in our warehouse. You can thank our prescient leaders for building up that inventory for this special occasion!
Bon voyage, Scurry!
Your friends at SPOOC
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on February 11, 2002
The effectiveness and relevance of this moronic pamphlet can be analyzed merely by critiquing the complexity (or lack thereof) of its metaphor, without even bothering to address its insulting message. To wit: Where did the maze come from? Does it have an exit? What are the two mice and the two mouse-sized people doing there? Never mind where the cheese IS, where does it BELONG? And finally, who, after all, DID move the cheese? This book never actually answers its own title.
The idea that a work of this nature is being lauded and employed by executives of Fortune 100 companies is frankly horrifying. As other reviewers here have noted, resistance to change is equated with inflexibility, fear and closed-mindedness. Apparently in the modern world of business there is no room for individual opinion, thoughtful consideration, or healthy skepticism.
If you read this book prepare to have your intelligence insulted, your motives questioned and your faith in the good sense of your betters dashed. And if you take its message to heart, then god help you.
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on May 17, 2001
Heraclitus was more succinct in his assertion that nothing is permanent except change.
This is the essence -- no -- the entire substance of this poorly written, highly over-rated and overpriced piece of corporate dogma. This book is a particularly insipid parable in which workers are compared to mice. In a particularly dehumanizing fasion, the mice are more adept at managing their lives than the human workers.
I found this book to be extremely simplistic, pathetically myopic and highly offensive. Anyone who posesses the basic intelligence of the average houseplant should find the main concepts in this book to be intuitively obvious.
Printed in large, easy to read type with enormous margins, no big words and a picture of cheese on every other page, Who Moved My Cheese is an easy read for any four year old who has mastered the art of Hooked on Phonics.
This is quite possibly the single worst book on career management ever written. Please save your money for something worthwhile.
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on May 15, 2001
The world is full of surprises. People whom I respect have found "Who moved my cheese?" entertaining and useful. Beats me, but there you go. So out of respect for them and any other friends who get off on this book, I'm honor-bound to say that you too may find it worth your while even if you are an intelligent adult of reasonable discernment. I respect you no less for it.
But I feel equally honor-bound to say that I personally found this book awful beyond belief. Tedious, shallow, repetitive, blindingly obvious and without even a hint of an "aha" insight. Having been suckered into parting with the... $... for a half-hour yawn, I'm wondering "Who moved my brain?"
It's supposed to be an allegory about the need to embrace change. I suspect that much of its sales success has been driven by corporate bulk orders from managers preparing to soften up their minions for the economic downturn. A kind of caring precursor to "Time to quit squeaking and start looking for a new job, buddy."
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on May 4, 2001
Think of that solid, old lunch cheese that many of us ate for lunch in those long-gone kindergarten years. Yes, American cheese. The stuff perfectly molded into a 3-inch square that comes wrapped in nice clear plastic, yellow, rubbary, and tastes like plastic itself. It's so simple; why, it even has a little flap at the front in case you couldn't figure out how to rip plastic off. Bland...and so...insipid. Well, that's what this book is like. I came across it by my father who brought this home, saying it was from a colleague who was promoting it, and of course, since it had the words "#1 Bestseller" emblazoned on it, I was immediately intrigued. After reading it in a disappointing ten minutes, I was wondering if I missed something that had made the book so "profound" and read it again. I could glean nothing more from it. That's because there's frankly nothing to find from the book. Sure, it makes a point through a little tale of "littlepeople" (named Hem and Haw) and "mice" (which is, in some aspects, QUITE belittling and condescending), and I do concede that it was purposefully terse. However, there has never been a book as extraneous and an outright insult to literature as this piece of writing. There are encapsulated morals in the book, each of which take one whole page, and big 1-cm letters that tell the moral as if it was an Aesop's fable, drawn over a huge picture of cheese. Quite befitting, for it is a generally cheesy and not even worth being termed a "moral". In case you missed those big blank paper-wasting "moral" spots, there's even a whole list of them, restated for you at the end. And at the end there is a little repetitive "discussion" of the issues within the book, all of which are simple restatements of the topics, not even in-depth arguments but the sort that start out "oh, I know a person who had that problem" and "that person fixed it by dealing with change". A perfect way to restate the title of the book. If anything, the point that this book makes is that corporate society is so dense, banal, and mindlessly absorbed in their work and time that all they can stand to read is this sort of book. And they nod their heads, saying that this applies to real life. But if they stopped to acutally _think_ instead of mindlessly going about their work for more than a few minutes, they would find they need no MD and PhD people sitting out there writing kindergarten picture books to confirm their thoughts.
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on June 30, 2004
Yup, Alberto got here got it right. We were handed this book by our manager who knew nothing about his job or ours to get us to toe the party line. It worked. We shut up. Since then employees left in droves and productivity has been sinking ever since! Nice job Cheesies!
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