Hari's Reviews

Hari's reviews on books, movies, television and more

Who Moved My Cheese by Dr. Spencer Johnson

Created: Sat Mar 20 16:14:27 2010 | Last modified: Sat Mar 20 16:14:27 2010

Rating: ----------

Who Moved My Cheese

There are two kinds of "simple" books. One is the charming, appealing and intelligent kind of simplicity you find in, say, an R.K.Narayan novel. The other is the plain, boring and dull kind of simplicity. "Who Moved My Cheese" is a book that belongs to the second class. For a book which is supposed to be a best-seller, it is amazingly contentless to the extent of being ridiculous. Even the author's own assertion that "the story might be simple - it's what you take out of it that matters" sounds like a very poor defence. You can say the same about any book. It's no USP.

I don't mind the fact that this book has no theoritical base in established and well-researched management principles. That might make this book too voluminous and boring for a lay reader. Forget that. I don't even mind the fact that it doesn't discuss any practical solutions and real-world experiences involving changes in people's lives, much as one might think that a book which deals with change management should at least have some illuminating, in-depth case studies. I don't even mind the fact that the book doesn't have some kind of unique idea or underlying philosophy which makes it different and readable. The least I expect is at least an entertaining and meaningful story. But when even that is missing, it really insults a reader's intelligence. A pathetic parable-like story which only a person in his/her mental adoloscence can appreciate. I don't mean to insult people who appreciate this book, but the fact is, any person or manager looking for some insights into change management and dealing with difficult changes in life or work will feel truly insulted by the author's treatment of the subject.

To use an analogy, it's like taking an extremely complex subject like theoritical astronomy which involves scientific formulae and mathematical principles and equating it with idle star-gazing without a telescope. What makes it worse is that the story being told is about as subtle as a heavy bulldozer knocking down a five storeyed building. You simply cannot miss the fundamental message. In fact it hits you straight in the face in each and every page of the book. Unfortunately, it lacks humour, it lacks depth and it lacks philosophy. It just says "Change is inevitable. Be prepared for change and change when the time comes." Literally that's all there is to this book. What's the point?

If I made an extremely negative review, it's only because this book gives the impression of being a mere gimmick - a marketing vehicle with very little effort put in by the author to deal with the complex and sensitive subject of change management in a holistic manner. All cheese - no substance. It's not even fit as a fable, because Aesop wrote much better tales. In fact, to compare this with Aesop's Fables is an insult to Aesop. Even the names used in the story show amazing lack of humour or imagination. Sample the names used for two different places in the maze where cheese is found: "Cheese Station C" and "Cheese Station N."

The fact that this book has been marketed as a "best-seller" just illustrates the fact that a crappy book can sell - so long as it is publicized. Sheer genius of marketing. If there was a negative rating scale, I'd give this book -5 out of 10.