“Who moved my cheese” is a story that demonstrates different reactions to change and how people can behave when subjected to change. The story is about four characters: two mice Scurry and Sniff, and two little people, Haw and Hem. They lived in a maze and used to run through the maze in search of cheese. They all loved cheese dearly, and one day they discovered cheese station c that was full of cheese. They enjoyed the cheese in the maze for quite some time, and the cheese eventually disappeared. After the cheese disappeared, Sniff and Scurry decided to let go of the lost cheese and enthusiastically headed out to look for new cheese. The two little mice demonstrated positive psychology of change as they could accept and adjust to the new changes. They had a more positive perception and believed that they would find another cheese station, and so they started looking until they found one.
In contrast, Haw and Haw couldn’t help but feel betrayed as they had started to claim the cheese ownership. They had a hard time letting go of the lost cheese and spent a lot of time complaining about the betrayal. They wasted so much time and energy hoping that the lost cheese would be returned in the maze and digging the maze’s walls to see if the cheese had been hidden in there. They had a negative perception of change psychology, which made it difficult for them to accept the change and move on. Their negative perception made them doubt every possibility of finding new cheese; hence they chose to dwell on the old cheese even though it was gone rather than move on and find new cheese like Sniff and Scurry. Haw eventually realized that the lost cheese would never be returned in the maze. He decides to follow Sniff and scurry’s footsteps by letting go of the old cheese and going out to look for new cheese (Johnson, 2015). Haw always decides to note whatever he discovers on the walls hoping that Hem would follow him. Haw faced a lot of disappointments while searching for new cheese, but he was determined to keep searching because he believed that fresh cheese existed somewhere out there. Eventually, he discovered new cheese and realized that Sniff and Scurry had already found the cheese.
Sniff and scurry quickly applied Lewin’s change theory because they promptly created a new perception that change was necessary. They started making the desired change, looking for new cheese and making it their norm until they eventually found new cheese. Kotter’s eight models of change would have been essential to the little people as it is people-oriented and is a structured process that helps break people’s resistance to change, which is a massive obstacle to change. Hem was the most resistant to change, and he totally refused to accept the change. He remained resistant to the change and chose to dwell on the possibility that the old cheese would return and also decided to stay in cheese station c.
Personal and Professional Experience with Change
The story demonstrates awesome ways of how to handle change in both personal and professional lives. It helps people resolve their fears and be courageous to face the reality of change. Most people get comfortable and tend to do what they are familiar with, and the thought of something different makes them feel scared. They want to remain in their comfort area instead of going out and trying to discover new thing as change add value or cause damage depending on how people interpret it and what they are willing to do about it. Interpreting change from a positive point of view can make it easy to move forward and easily forget about the past. Haw is a perfect example from the story as he was able to move past his fears which made it possible for him to forget the old cheese and go looking for new cheese (Johnson, 2015). In contrast, negative perceptions about change can cause destruction and cause someone to get trapped in the past. Hem refused to let go as he gave in to his fears and allowed himself to get trapped in the past.
Cheese in this story symbolizes what most people want to have in life. That can include money, good health, a thriving relationship, or a good job. The maze represents one’s life and the places they look for the things they desire in life. This book addresses change, and it tries to demonstrate that things constantly change and that the best thing to do is accept and allow ourselves to adapt to the changes. Sniff, and Scurry shows that the quicker we adapt to changes, the more satisfied we become. How people deal with change decides how happy they become. “Who my moved cheese” story gives a clear picture from a different perspective of the choices that people make and the challenges they face daily, and how to handle them differently.
Haw is the character that I closely relate to. He is an individual who learns from his previous mistakes, accepts change, and decides to move forward rather than dwell on the past. Accepting change is not always easy, and Haw also had a hard time accepting that the old cheese was gone, that he had to move on and look for alternatives (Johnson, 2015). He was afraid of what would happen next and was unsure if he would find new cheese. In the beginning, Haw did not handle change well. He was confused and complained a lot about losing their cheese. Haw had a time believing that the cheese was gone and did not want to leave cheese station c as he hoped that the lost cheese would come back. Like Haw, I am afraid of change and may choose to dwell on what feels familiar to me and reject unfamiliar situations. But eventually, I realized that I have to let go of the past and embrace the future and what it brings. Change is not always a bad thing. Some changes are actually for the best they bring growth, prosperity, and success. Haw teaches me that the sooner I accept change, the better and the quicker I adapt to my new situation.
Change is inevitable, and it will always happen in our lives, either personally or professionally. When I was preparing to go away to college, I was very anxious because I was used to being home and having my family around. The thought of me leaving home, my family, and my friends gave me a feeling that I could not even begin to explain, and I wouldn’t say I liked the feeling. I felt very confused and uncomfortable because I was going very far away from home, and I had to live with people I did not know. I was not sure if I would fit in with everybody else or even make any friends. I knew that I had to interact with different types of people with different attitudes and backgrounds, races, and ethnicities and who practiced different cultural beliefs and practices. All of these felt like a lot to handle, and I was very scared to the point that I thought of not going to college and even talked to my parents about it. They understood my fear and told me that it wasn’t as hard as I thought and I would eventually like it there.
I started preparing myself mentally for the big change that was about to happen in my life. I went to college; first, I was very isolated as I did not know who to trust and who to be friends with. I was afraid of the friends I would make as I was cautious that some could help you build your life while others could negatively influence you. My parents had cautioned me about it, and I did not want to take my chances in making the wrong friends. It was the most confusing time in my life. I spent the first few weeks in college without a friend, but I knew I had to start interacting with other people because I could not survive as a loner for the rest of my college days. I was able to apply Lewin’s change model, which helped me adapt to the changes that I was experiencing. This model is essential in change management. It involves three processes that are freezing, changing and refreezing. According to Lewin, the change process involves developing awareness that change is necessary (GreggU, 2019). Second, focusing on the new desired character and third, solidifying that character as the new norm. At first, it was not easy, but I started getting to know people and going out with them with time. I started trusting the people around me, and eventually, I made a lot of friends who helped make my college days easier, enjoyable, and memorable. I also embraced the positive psychology of change that made me appreciate the transition and develop a perception that I would fit in with the rest. This gave me a positive attitude and feeling towards meeting new people and making as many friends as possible. Positive psychology made my transitioning possible and easier.
After I joined college, I took a summer job in a hotel where my job was to help the hotel guests settle in. I had started getting used to the environment, my colleagues, and the hotel manager. The hotel manager was very nice, considerate, understanding, and respectful towards all the employees. I loved working there, and I was very comfortable until the hotel manager left because she had found a better job elsewhere. I was shocked as I did not know who the new hotel manager was and if she would be easy to work with. The thought of working with the new manager was scary. Quitting my job was not an option as I needed to help pay some of my college expenses. I was afraid of the new manager, and I avoided her at all costs to keep our interactions to the minimum. I hated working in an environment that made me feel anxious. I decided to try and get to know her because there could be a probability that she is not as bad as I thought. Eventually, we got to know each other and got along just fine. Negative perceptions about my new boss, influenced by the negative psychology of change, made me fear the new boss even though I did not know her. It made it very difficult to accept her and to let go of the old boss that I was very fond of and familiar with.
Based on my personal and professional experiences with change, I deal with change the same way. At first, I felt confused and uncomfortable about it. I always feel like I do not want to leave my comfort zone as change can be challenging, but I always accept change and adapt to it. I think that change will always happen, and we should always try and anticipate it. When change happens, we should try as much as possible to adapt to it quickly and make the necessary changes. We should also try to enjoy change as it can be a blessing to help you succeed, grow, and bring you better opportunities. Dwelling on the past can make you miss an important mark and can also make life difficult. Kotter’s change model is essential and effective in helping influence change to the change-resistant individual. It is an eight-step process that guides individuals and organizations on how to transition and accept change. Kotter insists that for change to be effective, one has to buy into the change, which is very difficult for me as change makes me feel uncomfortable, and I always take time like Haw to come to terms with it.
Effects of organizational culture on employee willingness to accept change
Organizational culture refers to the sequence of a company’s beliefs, norms, attitudes, values, and expectations and helps shape people’s behavior and get things done. Culture is simply the typical way of getting things done in a company. Organizational culture relates to the relationships and behavior patterns portrayed by the people working in an organization, including the managers and the employees (Barsade & O’Neill, 2016). Corporate culture is closely connected to the change management process. Most managers are uncomfortable with implementing change as they are afraid of taking risks of failure, which are as strong as those who resist change. To some employees’ change may cause positive impacts such as satisfaction and joy. On the other hand, change may be the cause of stress and pain.
Some organizational cultures tend to favor organizational change while others do not. Employees are an essential factor while implementing change, and they are also challenging to handle. Managing an organization’s human part requires considering preferences, values, and attitudes towards a specific undertaking (Barsade & O’Neill, 2016). People’s attitudes can be hard to change as individuals get comfortable with what they know and have learned over time because of fear of taking risks and stereotyping. To effectively implement change, an organization should challenge and clarify the employees’ beliefs, expectations, and attitudes.
Successful implementation of change requires organizations to adapt Kotter’s 8 step model of change, which is a crucial tool that helps implement change successfully and powerfully. He emphasizes the need to create an urgency for change, which can be achieved by developing a sense of urgency around the need for change, which will help spark motivation for action and get things moving. Second, form a powerful coalition that will help in convincing people to change (Kotter’s 8-Step Change Model Explained, 2021). This requires strong leaders and support from the major players in an organization. Third, an organization should create a change vision that will help people see the ideas and solutions that the change is meant to provide. Fourth, the organization should communicate the vision as effective communication, and a clear statement contribute to an excellent change reception and a successful implementation of the change.
The fifth step of Kotter’s change process involves removing obstacles that may hinder the change because it will empower the individuals needed to implement the vision and ensure that the change is made (Kotter’s 8-Step Change Model Explained, 2021). The sixth step involves creating short-term wins to keep the employees motivated and engaged because nothing mot5ivates people more than success. The seventh step requires the organization to build on the change. He argues that change activities fail as victory is declared early, and real change should run deep. Anchoring the changes in corporate culture is the last step of Kotter’s change model. Successful implementation of change requires the transition to become a part of the organization for it to stick.
Organizational culture can affect workers’ willingness to accept change. A culture that has incorporated change and allows change to be at the organization’s core makes it easy for employees to accept change (Barsade & O’Neill, 2016). An organizational culture that encourages single-mindedness in implementing the stated organization mission and goals and responding to changes in the working environment promptly and effectively tends to have employees that are more receptive to change (Crowley, 2017). Employees in such an organization can adapt to change and accept it quickly. An organizational culture that is unwilling to accept poor staff performance also promotes a quick response to change. On the other hand, employees are reluctant to accept change or less tolerant to change in a culture that puts up with poor employee performance and inadequate concentration on an organization’s mission and strategic goals (Kotter, 2015).
Adapting to change has not been easy for me either. I took a summer job working in a hotel where the manager was not very Strick about time and attendance. She did not seem to have a problem as long as you got your job done and attended to all the clients without complaints. She was very lenient even with absenteeism as long as you asked a colleague to work during your shift. Things got very tough for me when the manager resigned from working at the hotel, and she was replaced by a new manager who was very Strick and was determined to change the previous culture. She did not make it easy for anyone of us, and we had to report to work on time without fail. Changing my punctuality and attendance behavior was one of the hardest things I had to do. The previous manager created a culture that accommodated and tolerated lateness and failure to go to work. This made it very difficult for me to adapt to the change that demanded me to get to work in time and without fail.
At some point, the hotel was not doing so well financially. It was in debt and facing a lot of threats from financial institutions. The hotel management could no longer continue paying us the same amount of money as they used to and some of us had to be laid-off to accommodate the hotel’s budget. Accepting this change was quite a challenge as previously we had good pay and we were always paid in time. My colleagues and I joined hands to disagree about the salary reduction, but there was nothing that the hotel management could have done. It was either that or quit our jobs, and none of us was ready to lose our jobs. No matter how difficult, unwilling and disappointing this change was, I had to adapt and accept my new salary.
Organizational culture has a significant impact on how employees react to change. I had a hard time accepting change in my workplace as the culture had helped me put a solid mind on doing things a certain way, and when I was required to change, I was not willing to, and I was not ready to accept it. The culture in the hotel accommodated lateness and absenteeism. Nobody ever questioned me about it or reprimanded me for it making it challenging for me to change my behavior and be punctual. Organizational culture should be the type that promotes change and mentally prepares its employees about change as change happens and is inevitable (Kotter, 2015). For instance, it would have been easier for us to accept the salary decline if we were constantly educated on organizational changes. It would always keep us prepared that change can happen anytime, and when it happens, we are ready and willing to adapt and accept the change.
For change to be effective, it is crucial that organizations make people-oriented and not process-oriented changes, as people are critical drivers of change. The human part of an organization is very vital in helping a company attain its strategic goals. An organization should encourage single-mindedness as employees feel they have a personal responsibility to contribute to its mission and goals (Crowley, 2017). Single-mindedness helps the employees to focus on the ultimate goals and objectives of an organization. This way, they work towards achieving those goals and making a positive impact on the organization.
Change is a process that causes discomfort, and most people prefer to stick to what feels familiar because transitioning through change is stressful and may cause anxiety. Change has a different impact on every employee (Crowley, 2017). Some may take a lot of time to adapt to change, others may adapt fast, and others may never accept the change, making it difficult for them to adapt. Based on my experience with change, I experienced a lot of denials initially. I did not understand why things had to change, yet the work was being done appropriately, and I had never had any complaints from clients. It is essential to know why the business has to transition through the change and effectively manage its reaction. It is also crucial to know the businesses’ outcome if the change is not implemented. The new hotel manager would not have insisted on changing our punctuality and attendance behavior if it did not impact the business.
Another important point in managing reaction to change is that the business manager should effectively deliver the key messages of change to the employees. They should ensure face-to-face communications with those most affected by the change, explaining why things have changed and what the organization hopes to achieve by implementing those changes. Employees can have a bad reception to change and may not respond well as they may feel frustrated; thus, they should be sensitive and understanding.
Managers and leaders can play a critical role in helping employees adjust to change. While implementing change, managers must acknowledge the past and involve employees in the change process. Acknowledging the past is crucial as it reassures the employees that their past working techniques are not inadequate or insufficient as they implement the new ones. It is essential that employees feel acknowledged and what was good and right in the old days and engage them in improving the old methods to suit the current business needs. Managers can also help employees adjust to change by offering them training and preparing them to help boost their confidence (Crowley, 2017). This is essential as changes cause uncertainty and fear. The best solution for this problem is to ensure certainty that can be achieved by offering suitable training to help prepare for the change by better understanding the change and developing more skills.
Managers and leaders carry out more research on how they can help employees adapt to change. Employees are a vital component in change management and are crucial in successfully implementing organizational changes. The quicker the employees accept and adjust to change, the faster that those changes can be implemented and become effective for the organization. They should research different ways to help employees adjust to change as change affect them differently, and each one of them may need a different approach. Leaders and managers can turn to the psychology of change as it can help transform employees’ behavior and attitudes by using psychological breakthroughs that elaborate why individuals’ actions and behavior. When implementing change, applying the psychology of change is critical to successful implementation relies on persuading people to change how they work. People will only accept the transformation if convinced to think differently about their work. Applying change psychology can help leaders and managers alter their employees’ mindsets for them to accept change and adjust to it quickly.
The psychology of change helps managers and leaders understand why people are resistant to change and how they should handle them. People can be resistant to change due to fear of losing their jobs. They should create an organizational culture that allows people to enhance their skills as it gives them an assurance that can increase their competence to help them face any challenge. People can also resist change due to shock and fear of the unknown, and lack of competence. Leaders and managers should always try to find out why people are resistant to change, which will help them formulate a sufficient cause of action.
In conclusion, we will always experience a change in one way or another, either personal or professional. Change requires people to adjust from what they knew or what they were used to and try different things. “Who moved my cheese” proves that change can be difficult, and it requires individuals to abandon fear and self-satisfaction to adapt to change positively. Haw set an excellent example that change can be complicated and disappointing, but it can also open other doors and be a blessing and not a curse. In an organization, successful change implementation largely depends on organizational culture and leadership. Leaders should always promote a corporate culture that is flexible and easy to adapt to changes. They should always make their staff a part of the change process. This will feel involved with the company’s proceedings and will be more likely to accept the changes, unlike when they are not allowed to participate.
Barsade, S., & O’Neill, O. (2016, November 17). Manage Your Emotional Culture. Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2016/01/manage-your-emotional-culture
Crowley, J. (2017, June 7). Why employees resist change – even when it’s good for them. The People HR Blog. https://www.peoplehr.com/blog/2017/06/07/why-employees-resist-change-even-when-its-good-for-them/
GreggU. (2019). Lewin’s Process Model of Organizational Change [YouTube Video]. In YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2OKqnFnPdRE
Johnson, S. (2015). Who moved my cheese? Random House.
Kotter, J. (2015, August 25). Leading Change: Why Transformation Efforts Fail. Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2007/01/leading-change-why-transformation-efforts-fail
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