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A Lesson in Change… and Cheese

The world of digital properties and online interaction has seen dramatic changes in the past few years and has no sign of slowing down. Every day a new App is created or a new social media network emerges into the market demanding our businesses to adapt. This presents a unique challenge to project management and customer service representatives. What are the risks that businesses face if they refuse to change with the times? A simple parable holds the key to being in control of change, rather than the other way around.

urlThe New York Times bestseller “Who Moved My Cheese” (Spencer Johnson, MD), has been well circulated throughout business companies all over the country. However, with the hyper-dynamic nature of the environments we work in today, the book’s message on change is as relevant now as ever.

In the story, two mice and two small men Hem and Haw, set off on a journey to find cheese in the maze they live in. They come upon a large batch of cheese that will feed them for what seems like forever. But the mice are intelligent, and realize that the seemingly endless supply of cheese would, in fact, one day run out. They had prepared themselves mentally for an inevitable shortage. The humans on the other hand, arrived one day to find the cheese completely gone. Confused and arrogant that the cheese would last forever, the humans are ill-prepared for the situation. Angered by what had happened, Hem and Haw start to blame one another for the shortage. By this time the mice are long gone and have already found a new batch of cheese. Hem suggests that they take off and try to find the cheese but Haw refuses, obstinately believing that his routine will work in the long run.

As the days pass and nothing changes, Hem realizes that they must change and embrace the fear of the unknown to find a new batch of cheese. Even though his partner refuses to change Hem eventually finds the cheese that he has been looking for. Haw suffers because he is afraid to change.

In the world of business change is inevitable, and if we refuse to provide the changes our customers require we will end up like Haw in the story. To avoid his fate we must remember these important lessons from Hem:

  • cheeseChange Happens
  • We must anticipate the change (like the mice)
  • Examine the changes around us
  • Adapt to it as quickly as possible
  • Enjoy the adventure
  • Keep changing

Our predecessors in earlier generations had the luxury of much more time to anticipate and plan for change, but today it is a fact of daily work life, and a key survival skill…for individuals and businesses alike.

So remember, if your beloved cheese has suddenly gone missing, survival may depend on handling it as an opportunity rather than an obstacle…and having an emergency stash on the side for just such an occasion.

Chris Nichols
Project Manager

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