Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson: Book Review

Title: Who Moved My Cheese

Author: Spencer Johnson

Genre: Self Help, Motivational

“What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”

Written by Spencer Johnson, who also co authored the massively successful, The One Minute Manager with Kenneth Blanchard, this little motivational book is a fable about the inevitability of change. The success of the book spawned services like motivational lectures based on the book and many other tools for managers to cope with and to welcome change in their workplaces.

Who Moved My Cheese is a story within a story, of two mice and two men like creatures, all of whom are looking for the things that matter the most to them in life. It goes on to talk about what happens when the normal and the usual are somehow taken away from us and our varied reactions to the change.


There are four characters in the book, with names for the characteristics that are dominant in them. Sniff is good at sniffing for cheese metaphorically and good at seeing change that is bound to happen. Scurry is action oriented and quickly puts new ideas into action. Hem is successful and comfortable, just too comfortable with where he is. Haw is like many of the people who are confronted with change and find it unexpected. But they adapt to it sooner or later.

These characters represent parts of all of us. We are sometimes one character predominantly and sometimes the other.

What works well

Spencer Johnson has written the book for businesses, corporations and managers but the lessons put out there can be used by most of us, regardless of our circumstances. Hence, the book has a universal appeal.

A Modern Classic?

Sure, the book is a classic. When it was published in 1998, it quickly became a phenomena. Organisations acquired multiple copies, had seminars and talks based on the book.

Yet, 20 years on and after a re reading, I realised that the book has a story that is overly simplistic. It is so short that it can be only a few pages long if we cut out the portions that are repititive.

The framing story also feels superfluous.


Don’t miss this short fable with a strong punch. It introduces you to the nature and the inevitability of change and puts forth the importance of adapting to change as soon as possible.

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