Who Moved My Cheese? An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life

Who Moved My Cheese? written by Dr Spencer Johnson was published in 1998 and features four characters: two mice, "Sniff" and "Scurry," and two people,, "Hem" and "Haw." They live in a maze (environment) and look for cheese (happiness and nourishment). In the beginning, the mice and humans paired off and search for cheese. One day both groups find a cheese-filled area called "Cheese Station C". The humans build a routine around when and how much they eat and slowly become entrenched in their ways.

One day Sniff and Scurry the two mice arrive at Cheese Station C to find no cheese left. Noticing the cheese supply dwindling prior to this point, they have mentally prepared beforehand for the arduous but inevitable task of finding more cheese. At that point they begin their hunt for new cheese together. Hem and Haw arrive later in the day at Cheese Station C to find the same thing as Sniff and Scurry, the fact there is no cheese. In a frustrated manner Hem asks, "Who moved my cheese?" The humans had got caught up in a routine and not foreseen the cheese running out. Instead of going straight out in to the maze in search of new cheese they get angry and both go home starved. Hem and Haw return the next day hoping to find the cheese replaced but find there is still no cheese in Cheese Station C. Haw starts to think beyond his frustration and considers a search for new cheese, but Hem is so frustrated he cannot see past the problem and decides he does even want to look for new cheese.

While the humans are still caught up thinking about the problem Sniff and Scurry have found "Cheese Station N" which is a new area full of cheese.

Haw again considers a change of approach and suggests a search for new cheese to Hem. Hem is so frightened about the unknown and set in his ways he again rejects the idea of a search for new cheese. After some time Haw begins to realize he should move on so he writes "If You Do Not Change, You Can Become Extinct" on the wall of Cheese Station C to remind him of his new mindset and for Hem to consider. He also writes "What Would You Do If You Weren't Afraid?" on the wall to help him think about his fears for the journey and then he sets off in to the maze in search of new cheese.

In the maze Haw finds some crumbs of cheese as he works through his search that help him along the way. He has a realization that the cheese has not suddenly disappeared but it has run out over time from them all eating too much. On his search he comes across an empty cheese station which causes him to have some concerns and fears again but with his new mindset he works through the fears and continues his search at which point he realizes "When you move beyond your fear, you feel free." After further unsuccessful searching he goes back to find Hem and share some of the crumbs he has found on his journey. On Haws return Hem refuses the new cheese through his stubbornness which is disappointing to Haw. Seeing that this friend is stuck in his ways Haw heads back out in to the maze to continue his search. As he moves deeper in to the maze he starts to write his thoughts on the walls which he calls the “Handwriting On The Wall”. After further searching Haw finds Cheese Station N where there is lots of new cheese with different varieties from Cheese Station C and he realizes he has found what he was looking for.

After eating Haw considers returning to see Hem but he decides to let Hem find his own way to find the new cheese. While considering his experience he writes his findings on the wall:

Change Happens - They Keep Moving The Cheese

Anticipate Change - Get Ready For The Cheese To Move

Monitor Change - Smell The Cheese Often So You Know When It Is Getting Old

Adapt To Change Quickly - The Quicker You Let Go Of Old Cheese, The Sooner You Can Enjoy New Cheese

Change - Move With The Cheese

Enjoy Change! - Savor The Adventure And Enjoy The Taste Of New Cheese!

Be Ready To Change Quickly And Enjoy It Again - They Keep Moving The Cheese.

Learning from past experience Haw now inspects Cheese Station N daily and continues to explore the maze so he does not get stuck in a comfort zone. One day Haw hears movement in the maze and hopes it is his old friend Hem who has finally changed and searched for new cheese.

The link for the cartoon movie is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16hxCB1Dvd4

The book uses this simple story to illustrate how different mind sets affect the outcomes of change and has sold over 26 million copies worldwide.


Johnson, S. (1998) Who moved my cheese? An amazing way to deal with change in your work and in your life. Putnam, New York.