I Moved Your Cheese : New Business Fable Helps You See the Old in New Ways

Vikas Joshi
September 13, 2011

Entrepreneurs – by definition – won’t accept things the way they are. They are keen on changing the world. They pursue opportunities that are seemingly beyond their resources.  One critical aspect of an entrepreneur’s journey is the changing environment in which he/she must operate. Uncertainties external to business abound, and you never know who will move your cheese.

I Moved Your Cheese (IMYC), Harvard professor Deepak Malhotra’s latest book, was written ‘for those who refuse to live as mice in someone else’s maze’.  The writer of Negotiation Genius should know a thing or two about mazes, I thought, as I approached the book – on my Kindle – half expecting a clever treatise on negotiating. What unfolded, to my delight, was a business fable that rebuts the message of the bestseller Who Moved My Cheese? (WMMC) by Spencer Johnson.

While WMMC exhorts you to get out of denial, accept change and adapt to it, Malhotra’s IMYC goes to deeper questions. Why has the change been forced on us? How might we exercise greater control over our lives? Are the goals we are seeking the correct ones? How do we escape the maze designed to suit the needs and interest of those in control?  In a simple, storytelling way, Malhotra wages a scathing attack on the philosophy of embracing our limitations, blindly accepting change and eagerly adapting to it. Indeed, he questions the very assumption that we are condemned to be mice in a maze chasing cheese.

It is not unusual for people, organizations and even entire nations to feel trapped in their current circumstances. IMYC makes a strong case to rise above that feeling. No one says it better than Zed, one of the three adventurous mice: “You see, Max, the problem is not that the mouse is in the maze, but that the maze is in the mouse.”

Without departing from his characteristic wit and humor, Malhotra encourages reflection: Have you experienced a moment which made you realize ‘our hunger for inspiration is greater than the hunger for cheese’? Will it be worthwhile to reconsider some of the things in our environment that we often take for granted? Have you come across adventurous people that simply walked through a wall when no one else thought it was possible? What mazes do you find yourself in? Are they of your choosing? What’s the game you are playing?

This book is a must-read for every entrepreneur. The author suggests specific questions for organizations, which will help them see the old in new ways. Those interested in talent management will find this book a great asset. What’s more, it’s a really short read. What you will get from the book will depend on you – which is always a hallmark of a great fable. Read all about the book here.