How to Deal with Unexpected Change in Your Work and in Your Life

Book cover of who moved my cheese sitting on a table with a cup of coffee.

Who Moved My Cheese?  by Spencer Johnson, M.D. is a quick, powerful read about how to deal with change in your work and in your life.


Who Moved My Cheese tells the journey of four characters: two mice named Sniff and Scurry, and two ‘Littlepeople’ named Hem and Haw who all live in a ‘maze’. Their very purpose for being is the pursuit and enjoyment of ‘cheese’ to nourish them and make them happy.

Cheese is a metaphor for the things you want in life to make you happy. For some cheese is money, for others, cheese is love, health, or peace of mind. The maze represents your work, community, or wherever it is that you are searching for the cheese you want.

The four characters have been living off a great wealth of cheese. All is going well until one day someone moved their cheese and they are forced to find new cheese. Each of the four characters represents the different ways people deal with change.

The two mice, Sniff and Scurry represent the parts of us that are simple and instinctive. When their cheese is gone, they immediately go back to the maze and look for new cheese.

The little people, Hem and Haw represent the complex parts of us as human beings. They respond to the lack of cheese with a sense of betrayal and spend days wondering when the old cheese will return. Once Haw realizes the old cheese isn’t going to return, he sets out into the maze to find new cheese. As he is searching, Haw writes what he is learning on the walls of the maze in hopes Hem will use his advice some day and follow him.

Who will you be the next time someone moves your cheese?

Four Ways You Can Respond Change:

  1. Sniff’s Approach: 

    Be aware of your environment and investigate your situation.  Being proactive will help you to see the change early on.

  2. Scurry’s Approach:

    When your cheese moves, take action immediately.  Don’t waste any time by hem hawing around.

  3. Hem’s Approach:

    Refuse to accept that change is happening.  You are afraid to leave your comfort zone regardless of the consequences.

  4. Haw’s Approach:

    You see how others are taking on the challenge of change, and you move with the Sniff’s and Scurry’s to get what you want.  But you try to encourage the Hem’s of the world to come with you to find great things.


How to successfully deal with change:

Change Happens. 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! Save The Adventure And Enjoy The Taste Of New Cheese!

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


 Who Moved My Cheese? will you make you question which of the four characters you tend to be like when change happens in your life. We suggest this book to anyone, not just business owners. The story takes less than an hour to read, and is written for all ages, but its unique insights can last a lifetime.

Click here to get your copy of Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson





This blog post was written by Fortiviti team member, Latoya