Move That Cheese!

Posted by on February 19th, 2013

Earlier this month I had the unique opportunity to attend my client’s Executive Summit retreat, where senior management from each division of the company gathered to discuss the internal changes that would redirect the future of their company.

While the week was filled with insightful leaders and intense discussions, a keynote speech focused on the book “Who Moved My Cheese?” by Spencer Johnson, M.D. made a lasting impression.

The cheesy (pun intended) story line is based on four characters, two mice and two little people, and how they deal with someone unexpectedly moving their cheese.  The cheese is used as a metaphor for what you want in life (job title, love, money, that big WSJ hit!, etc.) and is meant to invoke discussion around methods of dealing with change.  Our keynote speaker from Red Tree, a leadership and development consulting group, categorized the reactions to “change” into the following groups (with my interpreted descriptions):

  1. Movers:  Accept change with excitement and willingness. Adapts easily and seeks new opportunities the change may offer.
  2. Minimalists: Accept change but makes the least possible alterations in behavioral / emotional state of being.
  3. Waiters: Wait to analyze and research the potential impact change may bring. Observe how peers behave and often base their own behaviors on the majority of the group.
  4. Resisters: Are not open to change, prefer the status quo and react negatively to new structures. Often convince peers to resist change as well.
  5. Quitters:  Refuse to accept change. React by quitting or fleeing the group or manager forcing them to change.

The point of the story is that change is guaranteed in life, in our careers, in our clients and especially in the PR industry.  A few PR examples include:

  1. Increase in the use of video to connect with consumers and communicate brand messaging .
  2. Expected and refined use of social media communication across B2B and B2C platforms .
  3. Continued transformation from print to digital media landscapes.

How we react to change in life and in PR varies between personalities, but is key to our success. It is crucial to recognize these differences and discover for yourself how to best analyze and accept to a new challenge so that you can stress less and achieve more.

As my boss Lewis Goldberg (definitely  a “mover”) once said, “We are by nature constantly in motion, living on a planet that is rotating and orbiting around the sun. If you are unable to adapt to change, you will inevitably be left behind.”