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Evolving Role of Modern HR – Part 2

Embrace Change: 7 Lessons from Who Moved My Cheese Book

In my previous blog, I wrote about how we as HR should assess readiness, risk and provide support during a change within an organisation. Crafting a training program to help employees understand what the change process will entail and how they will be integrated into the new role will help employees accept change and move forward. Also, this will help mitigate the concerns around the change. You can read Evolving Role of Modern HR: Part 1 here.

In this blog, I am sharing with you about a book that i picked up long ago and to this day keep reading it once in a while – Who Moved My Cheese by Dr. Spencer Johnson. It is a delightfully quick read underscoring the dynamic nature of the world we live and how fragile success can be if you're not prepared to change with the times. Despite its size (98 pages) and playful telling, it contains big ideas for individuals, companies and organisations of all sizes who are striving to remain relevant.

I came across "Who Moved My Cheese" as part of a Change Management training we held at one of my previous roles. Spencer, in his parable, depicts four characters on the hunt for cheese in a never-ending maze. When the cheese is plentiful, life is good for all, but when it runs out, only those who possessed the ability to venture forth and find new cheese were able to continue enjoying the good life. In this simple depiction, Spencer underscores the need to remain vigilant for impending changes in the environment around you and always to be searching for a new source of nourishment should your current cheese turn sour.

Gone are the days of stable life-long employment or even being able to count on the product you sell remaining relevant in the long term. For many, viewing the world in this light is troubling and burdensome. Dr. Johnson aims to overcome this perspective. Instead of being a burden, he encourages the reader to see it as freedom to explore and experiment, observing that with the habit of vigilance comes freedom of opportunity.

I won't give away the ending and trust me when I say, this book will remind you how critical it is to constantly venture beyond your comfort zone, push beyond your fears and resolve to embrace change.

The 7 Lessons I keep close to me from the book are:

1. Change happens.
They keep moving the cheese: Change is the law of life. There are some of us who dread this word but the truth is that our progress and happiness depend a lot on the way we deal with change. A new manager on the block, a new account in your kitty, the new role that you are offered to take on, all these and much more sometimes scare us. But the truth is no matter how content we may be with things, change happens. It is the only constant in life.

2. Anticipate change.
Get ready for the cheese to move: It is naive to believe that everything is going to remain exactly as is. We often get trapped into doing the same things we have always done to be successful, even after these practices have stopped working as effectively as they once did. It's better to be aware that change can come at any time and be open to the possibility. Be progressive and be prepared.

3. Monitor change.
Smell the cheese often so you know when it is getting old: Keep a track of things that you are doing for a client, document it. Monitor the changes as at times it is the addition of all minor things that lead to either success or failure of a project. Be diligent and take inventory of your situation.

4. Quickly adapt to change.
The quicker you let go of old cheese, the sooner you can enjoy new cheese: As the old saying goes, "nothing ventured, nothing gained!" Be an early adopter, digital is not for foot-draggers. This will help you not only grow as an individual but also help you set and achieve newer and better milestones for the project you are handling.

5. Change.
Move with the cheese: Stay abreast of new potential opportunities. Embrace change with open arms and a smiling face. Trust me, nothing ever goes wrong with a smiling face.

6. Enjoy Change.
Savor the adventure and enjoy the taste of the new cheese: Because it is not a scary word after all. You will soon notice that you don't miss your old project or your old role because the new one has so much to offer.

7. Be ready to change quickly.
They will keep moving the cheese: So, sniff and scurry and you will be a happier person. This is the secret of being an evolved and most sought-after professional.

So, get ready, let go of the fear. Embrace change.Move your cheese!

Evolving role of modern HR is a part of a 3-part series. The aim behind this series is to highlight the complexity of HR in today's time, given the increasing workplace demands, growing diversity, the economic turmoil and the constant change happening with organisations.

Stay tuned for the last part of the series.


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