“OK, the cheese moved…. why am I surprised?”

By Jennifer A.K. Schafer Cassani

While muddling through the process of reorganizing my office one night last week, I ran through the management section of books up on the shelf. With my mind occupied by topics and undercurrents of today’s economic tide, a snarky grin broke out on my face as I reached for an oldie: “Who Moved My Cheese?” by Dr. Spencer Johnson.

This book has received both praise and criticism for its simple parable about changes in life. My snarkiness waned, however, as I scanned through the pages first read years ago. It was replaced by a nod of recognition and an eyebrow rose in the realization that the same simple wisdom still applies today.

Who Moved My Cheese?, by Dr. Spencer Johnson
In summary:

1. Change Happens: They keep moving the cheese
2. Anticipate Change: Get ready for the cheese to move
3. Monitor Change: Smell the cheese often so you know when it is getting old
4. Adapt To Change Quickly: The quicker you let go of old cheese, the sooner you can enjoy new cheese
5. Change: Move with the cheese
6. Enjoy Change: Savor the adventure and enjoy the taste of new cheese
7. Be Ready To Change Quickly and Enjoy It Again and Again: The cheese will keep moving

Regardless of whether or not you are a fan of the book, hate cheese, hate mice, or both… its message endures. May this brief rumination, at the very least, give you a fresh outlook and motivation to analyze where you are and where you want to go as a business owner. And may it also serve as a catalyst for undertaking a more productive path toward your goals.

Being a big fan of cheese myself, and armed with a hearty aged-gouda and appropriate vino pairing, I sat back and mused over the concept of change in the business landscape and economy. If the only constant in life is change… then why be so surprised when it happens?

Lamenting the reasons and rationale regarding this current meltdown seems futile, because history and cyclical analysis has shown it has – and will – happen again to some extent. Should we not focus instead on preparing our businesses for future insulation from such events?

Like the surge in sales of bottled water, canned food, flashlights and other essentials when forewarned of an oncoming natural disaster, are we surging to obtain essential things to plan and ensure the longevity of our businesses? Unlike an oncoming hurricane or tsunami, we know all too well that forewarning of an economic disaster rarely comes soon enough. Developing a proactive stance, versus reactive, is the key here.

How are you finding sources of renewed inspiration and motivation to help your business weather this economic storm? Have any recent readings given you reason to pause and ponder?