“Who Moved My Cheese?” is a motivational business fable written by Dr. Spencer Johnson and published in 1998. The story, told through a simple parable featuring mice and little people, delves into how different characters deal with change in their lives, particularly within a maze that represents their environment or workplace. The cheese represents what one wants in life, such as a job, a relationship, or wealth.

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Who Moved My Cheese Summary

Detailed Overview

The narrative centers around four characters: two mice named Sniff and Scurry, and two little people, miniature humans named Hem and Haw. These characters live in a maze where they look for cheese to make them happy. The story examines their different strategies for coping with unexpected changes when the cheese they rely on suddenly disappears.

Extensive Plot Summary

  • Beginning: The characters’ daily routine involves searching the maze for cheese. Sniff and Scurry exhibit simple, animalistic traits—they quickly adapt to their environment and are prepared for change. Hem and Haw display more complex human emotions and responses, becoming comfortable with their cheese and not anticipating its disappearance.
  • The Change: One day, the cheese at Cheese Station C, where Hem and Haw always find their cheese, disappears. This sudden change reflects unexpected transformations in one’s career or personal life.
  • Reaction to Change: Sniff and Scurry immediately accept the loss and start looking for new cheese elsewhere. In contrast, Hem and Haw are shocked and unprepared. Hem denies and resists the change, hoping the old cheese will return. Haw is initially hesitant but learns to adapt over time, understanding that change is inevitable and can lead to better opportunities.
  • Adapting: Haw ventures into the maze in search of new cheese, leaving behind Hem, who remains stagnant. Along the way, Haw learns valuable lessons, finding bits of new cheese that encourage him to move forward. He writes these insights on the maze walls as handwriting on the wall for Hem, should he decide to follow.
  • The Lessons: Haw realizes that change is a natural part of life and that by overcoming fears, one can discover new opportunities. He learns to anticipate and adapt to change quickly, understanding that it leads to growth.
  • Conclusion: Haw eventually finds a new cheese station, abundant with cheese, and meets Sniff and Scurry again, who had long since moved on. The story ends with Haw reflecting on his experiences, hoping Hem would find his way by adapting to change as well.
Who Moved My Cheese Summary


The core message of the book is that change is an inevitable and integral part of life, and success largely depends on one’s ability to anticipate, adapt to, and enjoy change. The different characters represent typical responses to change, highlighting the importance of staying agile and open-minded.

Notable Quotes

  1. “The quicker you let go of old cheese, the sooner you find new cheese.”
  2. “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”

Suggestions for Similar Books

  • “Our Iceberg Is Melting” by John Kotter: A fable about penguins dealing with change, offering insights into managing successful change.
  • “Fish! A Proven Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results” by Stephen C. Lundin: Another motivational business parable that explores how to create a positive workplace.
  • “The One Minute Manager” by Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson: Provides quick and effective strategies for management, emphasizing the value of adapting to new situations.

“Who Moved My Cheese?” serves as a timeless reminder of the importance of recognizing and embracing change, providing simple yet profound insights that can be applied in various aspects of life and work.

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