Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson and The One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson are two books that use symbolic stories to talk educate on interpersonal relationships and organizational and management skills.
The One Minute Manger mirrors the experience of a young man who desires to learn as much as he can about being an effective manager. In his search for effective managerial skills, the young man hears of a manager in a nearby town who has a credible reputation of being very effective and who is admired by many. When the young arranges a meeting with this reputable manager, he is amazed to hear the manager describe himself as a one-minute manager. The “one minute management style” is comprised of three major elements
- One-minute goals setting- Agreeing with goals (not more than 6) with your staff members. This way the staff understands their full responsibility.
- One minute praising- this is where immediate positive o feedback is given to employees whenever they are caught doing right
- One-minute reprimand- This is immediate and stern rebuke to the employees caught engaging in actions that are not up to the particular individual standards. The manager will, however, be sure to remind the employee to his value to the company after this rebuke.
The basic goals of the one-minute management style are to achieve as many results a possible in the smallest time. The book brings out the premise that employees in an organisation who feel valued will inadvertently be more productive than those who feel that they are not valued. The book then goes to give simple techniques that can be used to encourage productive behaviour as well as correct any deficiencies within the organization.
Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson chronicles the experiences of four characters who live in a “maze” and who are in a search mission for “cheese”. The maze represents one’s workstation, family or the immediate community where one lives. The cheese represents one’s desires in life: good job, good relationship, health money amongst others.
There are four characters in the book. They comprise two mice and two little people who live in a maze. Every single morning, the four characters put on their jogging suits and run to “Cheese Station C”, where each one of them finds their very own special type of cheese. Scurry and Sniff have a habit of tying their running shoes around their necks so that when the time comes, they will easily put them on and make their way to the cheese station. The two little people, Hem and Haw copy the mice’s habit but, after some time, they get bored and abandon the shoes altogether. They would arrive at the Cheese Station much long after Scurry and Sniff have arrived and would generally take this cheese for granted. Sniff has another habit of writing his thoughts on the wall, for instance, he writes, “Having cheese makes you happy”.
Things change one day, however, when Sniff and Scurry arrive at the Cheese Station and find that the cheese is gone. The two mice are not surprised by this because for some time; they have noticed that the cheese has been dwindling. Being easy creatures of habit and instinct, they waste no time pondering about the complexity of the situation and instead ran off to find some more cheese. Because the situation has changed, the two mice change with it. The two little people, Haw and Ham, are, however, shocked by this. They feel that they are entitled to the cheese found in Station C and are essentially in denial that it is no longer available. They return to the same location daily only to find that there is no cheese. This continues for some time until Haw realizes one day that if he is to survive, he will need to follow the example of Sniff and Scurry and move on to find new Cheese. He realizes that that the more cheese is important to someone, the more one wants to hold to it.
He tries to convince his friend Hem to come with him, but he objects. Hem is extremely fearful and resistant to the idea of venturing into the unknown to look for cheese. He imagines that the worst will happen, and such thoughts convince him to remain at Station C hoping for Cheese to appear magically. However, after some time, Hem realizes that they cannot continue to do a similar thing every day and hope for change to occur. He tells his friend “If we do not change, we could become extinct”. He gains enough courage, gets up and ventures into the unknown to look for Cheese. He travels for a long time looking for cheese, but he does not find any. He does not lose faith however and keeps on moving.
After much persistence, Haw is eventually able to find a new Cheese Station N where he finds abundant cheese already being enjoyed by Scurry and Sniff.
In the book, Who Moved My Cheese, the maze represents one’s workstation, family or the immediate community where one lives. The cheese represents one desires in life: good job, good relationship, health money amongst others. The four characters that live there can be summarized as shown below:
- Sniff A mouse that usually sniffs out situations
- Scurry: A mouse that quickly scurries into action
- Hem: A little person who is comfortable in life and resists any change that avails itself
- Haw: A little individual who eventually lets go and trusts the things that lie ahead
The two mice, use simple techniques, do not overanalyze situations and generally accept change as part of life development. The two little people, Hem and Haw, are comfortable in life and fear change.
Scurry and Sniff are not afraid to explore new things and therefore keep on moving. Therefore, when their “cheese” runs out, they are very quick to react and move on to find other “cheese”.
One of the two little people, Haw eventually overcomes his fears and frees his comfort zone. He accepts change and therefore becomes happier. On the other hand, Hem never learns to overcome his worries and fears. He becomes complacent and arrogant and once the cheese that he has found runs out, he does not even try to look for new one.
Through this fable tale, the book tries to illustrate that everyone must be open to the idea of change. People must learn not to get too comfortable in one place or situation because eventually, the “cheese” which represents one desires ion life might be gone. Continuously planning and constantly looking out for new opportunities in our “mazes” allows people to adapt and grow.
The One Minute Manager is also quite comparable to who moved My Cheese. It explores someone who is also quick in responding to situations. Just like the two mice waste no time in setting off to look for new cheese, the one-minute manager wastes no time in correcting situations, in the organizations that may derail its effective achievement of goals. He prefers solving problems quite fast so that the organization can move forward to the most important goals which his actually the achievement of its objectives.
Both books describe various some essential techniques that people can use to acquire success: These techniques can be summarized as shown below.
The two mice exhibit massive teamwork in their quest for cheese. They work together and share tasks, for instance, Sniffed, sniffs ahead cheese while Scurry scurries ahead looking for it. This effective teamwork eventually led them to finding new cheese. If human beings are to be successful, they must learn to work as effectively as teams. In the One Minute Manager, the aim of the manager is to create a good relationship with employee by rightly praising and reprimanding him where necessarily but always reminding him of his importance to the firm. Such a professional working relationship will lead to good teamwork between the two, and this facilitate the achievement of organizational goals.
It is very important for people to communicate effectively with each other. Sniff and Scurry were good listeners of each other and as a result, they were able to navigate the maze quite easily and eventually find new cheese. On the other hand, Hem demonstrates the effects of not listening. Ham was trying to help his friend to move on, but he chose not to listen. The One Minute Manage communicates effectively with his subordinates. He corrects them where necessary and reprimands them whenever they are wrong. Effective communication as seen can bring about many good things. For instance, effective communications allows people to work together.
Adaption and Quick Response to Situations
One cannot remain in the same position forever; the universe is very dynamic, and everyone must, therefore, learn to cope or adapt with the changes if they are to survive. Sniff, Scurry and eventually Hem accepted change and were able to survive because of this. The one-minute manager encourages quick response to situations. Whenever an employee performs below standards or against the organization goals; he is quickly reminded of his responsibilities and is encouraged to make rectifications as soon as possible.
Johnson, S. (1998). Who moved my cheese?: An amazing way to deal with change in your work and in your life. New York: Putnam.
Blanchard, K. H., & Johnson, S. (1982). The one minute manager. New York: Morrow.