"Who Moved My Cheese?" by Dr. Spencer Johnson Literature Analysis | Free Essay Example

“Who Moved My Cheese?” by Dr. Spencer Johnson Literature Analysis

Words: 975
Topic: Literature


This book was written by one of the world re-known management expert Dr. Spencer Johnson. It was written to be a self-help book to help people realize themselves and their perspective of the always changing environment around them. It was also intended to help managers, and other personnel’s in the managerial positions to understand the reactions of their workers in changing the environment.

The author uses symbolism and metaphors to relay important messages to the readers so as for them to be able to have a closer relationship with the different lessons through the use of various examples. It uses simple ideas to depict the different aspects of peoples’ lives, both simple and complex and how we adapt to them.

The first part of the book talks of the writer but the second part is about friends who meet in a reunion and share about their lives. They then share in this ‘Cheese’ story that is narrated by one of their colleagues. This story is seen in the third part of the book.


This story ‘Who moved my Cheese’ is a tale of four characters; ‘Scurry’ and ‘Sniff’ who are mice and two little people ‘Haw’ and ‘Hem’ living in a “maze”. These characters are engrossed in their daily life of finding cheese that is supposed to quench their needs. This cheese that was hope for the four was always at the same place. However, the disappearance of this usual ‘cheese’ leads to unprecedented change in the characters lives and perceptions of living a successful life.

Due to the disappearance of the cheese, these four characters are faced with a challenge to adapt to the change in their maze. One of the characters who is a mouse learns of the occurrence of the change he had anticipated, he adapts very fast and with time prospers more than the others. The little people, on the other hand, sit back in desperation doing nothing about the change they were not ready to embrace.

The characters, however, pick themselves up and decide to react to the change but one character ‘Hem’ opposes any kind of change. Haw realizes that fear is holding him back from embracing change and decides to break out of it and adapt. Eventually, the little people adapt to the change and venture out trying to look for another cheese. The prosperous character, however, tries to share his achievement and what he had learned by leaving monuments on the walls of the maze.

Haws’ writings on the wall were meant to be a reminder to him and also to provide his friend Hew with encouragement and directions that he would use to find cheese on his own. These characters that succeed in this story learn very important lessons that lead them to their cheese and also make them prosperous (Coffin 2009).

Using the characters in his story, the author tries to bring out the picture of how different people in life deal with changes. For instance, “Sniff” represents people who anticipate change and adapt to it fast; ‘Scurry’ on the other hand, depicts an image of dashing into action when the change is imminent, ‘Hem’ reflects those who are opposed to change because of fear and “Haw” portrays those who slowly adapt to a change unless its positive.

The author also uses other examples to get people to relate with these characters, to gain skills of approaching various circumstances.

Life lessons

Some of the key points expressed in this story in reference to the life experiences of the characters were; change is natural and is paramount, it is important for one to learn to anticipate change and adapt fast in order to be successful.

In this, he gives an example of ‘Haw’ who finds cheese reserves in various stations had just been depleted because he was late. Other lessons include; fear can keep you from achieving, always have positive thinking, we are our own hindrances’ to achievement, be ready for change and enjoy it and also it is important to use the past mistakes to plan the future.

After sharing in the story, these old time friends start to evaluate themselves immediately by trying to relate to one or all the characters in the story. The narrated story is seen to take effect in these characters and also in their social setups like work and families. They find they have some common characteristics to these characters in the story and some of them even decide to make some resolution. One of the participants in the discussion ‘Frank’ evaluates himself and decides to be like the character ‘Haw’.

The interactions of the friends after the story, help them open up to one another about their matters. According to these discussants, the cheese is related to various issues in their lives. This shows the importance of this story in self-evaluation which is critical while making important decisions (Coffin 2009).


This is a captivating classical book despite numerous criticisms from other writers and the public. Some readers view the action of the managerial personnel as an attempt to mass distribute the books to their subordinates to distract company restructuring. However, the book is a good managerial guide and self-development tool for businesspeople and even those in employment. It introduces some practical ideas that can help an individual resolve conflict brought about by unexpected environmental changes.

It is useful for the management to understand its workers better and know how to handle them during times of change in the environment or even work terms (Johnson 1998). The author has used the metaphor ‘maze’ to symbolize our lives and the cheese, the different goals we aim to achieve. The book stands out as an eye-opener in every facet of our lives, be it in relationships, workplace, financial planning, or in emotional aspects of an individual (Johnson 2000).


Coffin, Amy. Who Moved My Cheese? Book Review: 2009. Web.

Johnson, M. D. Spencer. Who Moved My Cheese? “An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life”. United States: Putnam Adult, 1998.

Johnson, M. D. Spencer. Who Moved My Cheese? “An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life“. Vermilion UK: Random House Group Ltd. 2000.