A Better Way of Dealing With Change in the Workplace?

September 4, 2014


Chances are, things are always changing in your workplace.
New management. New processes. New systems. New strategies. New organizational structure. On and on.
Every now and again, the change feels good and you like it.
But all too often, it’s not the kind of thing that makes you more excited to go to work.
Quite the opposite, in fact.
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I think sometimes, we take certain things as given. Something has become so commonplace that we simply take it as the new normal.
We stop raising our eyebrows. We no longer ask questions to clarify. We don’t even check anymore whether it makes sense for us or not.
Take for example, how we deal with change in the workplace.
We’ve been told, time and time again, that change happens. No way around it. We can sit there and complain. Or we can stop fearing change, accept it and adapt.
In fact, there was a massive book called Who Moved My Cheese that became the bible for dealing with change. Selling over twenty million copies, WMMC was revolutionary. It was insightful. This is the healthy way to react to our ever-changing work landscape.
And for a long time, I thought that way too. I distributed that book (along with hundreds of other managers) to my colleagues and teammates.

You see Max, the problem is not that the mouse is in the maze, but that the maze is in the mouse.

And then, I ran across this other book. Quite literally too, as it caught my eye as I was rushing through an airport.
I quickly whipped out my smartphone and took a picture of the cover so I can check it out when I wasn’t about to miss a flight.

I Moved Your Cheese

The book I Moved Your Cheese (IMYC) offers a radically different perspective on the question “what do I do in a world where my cheese keeps moving”.
IMYC challenges the notion that we simply need to get better at dealing with and adapting to change.

A Better Way of Dealing With Change?

In the same parable style as the first book, IMYC’s author, Deepak Malhotra, tells the story of the mice in the maze, living in a time when change (i.e., cheese being moved around constantly) has become routine.
The mice have adapted to change very well. No one is wasting time moping. Everyone is busy putting on their running shoes and looking for cheese elsewhere in the maze.i moved your cheese
But then, there were these three mice—Red, Max, and Big—who simply refuse to accept their reality as given.
Through these 3 mice, Malhotra offers us a different paradigm.
Instead of blindly chasing after the ever-moving cheese, we can escape the maze. Or, reconfigure it to our own liking.

We can create the new circumstances and realities we want, but first we must discard the often deeply ingrained notion that we are nothing more than mice in someone else’s maze.

The 3 mice present different approaches to life in the maze and the reality of change (aka the moving cheese).
Red, in particular, challenges the assumptions long held by the mice tribe. He breaks the rules of the maze and ignores previously well-accepted constraints.

Everything that happens – everything that we do – stems from our thoughts… This is the explanation, for all of it:  there is no physical continuity anywhere, and everything stems from the insistence of the mind.

It is true that change is inevitable, and that we would be better positioned if we became change-adept.
But that is not all that we can do. 
IMYC is a book that reminds us that we have the ability to influence our destiny and overcome the constraints—real and perceived—that we face.

It offers that we could focus less on running around looking for cheese in the maze. Instead, we could ask why we need to be in the maze, to begin with.

Its overall message is that of empowerment.
I enjoyed reading this book and highly recommend it.
To quote Daniel Pink: “If you’ve ever rankled at the thought of being just another mouse in the maze, this is the book for you.”

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