Jain Temple

Hot Spots

India Links
Call Home


Art & Culture
Book Shelf



About Us

Contact Us
About Us

Article by Mohan Babu


Change management: Who moved my cheese?

 The past decade has seen unprecedented upswings and downswings in the tech sector. It has consequently become imperative for IT professionals to have the foresight and resilience to survive in changing times. Mohan Babu gives an insight into change management

The book Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson is a must-read list for all techies. I happened to read it a while ago and was struck by its simple yet striking message, that is relevant to most of us in the IT industry. We live in changing times but are yet to come to terms with the changes being brought on us. Even though we can prepare for changes, we cannot control the cause-and-effect of economic, environmental and geopolitical changes that indirectly affect our lives and careers.

The story of Who Moved My Cheese is a simple parable that can be interpreted as you like— at work or in your personal life. In the story four characters live in a “maze” and are always hunting for “cheese”. There are two mice named Sniff and Scurry, and two little people called Hem and Haw, who are the size of mice but look and act like people. “Cheese” is a metaphor for whatever you want to have in life—job, relationship, health, peace of mind. And the “maze” is where you look for it. The story shows what happens to the characters one day when the cheese has been moved to another part of the maze. Some are prepared for it and do well. Others have a tougher time. As you observe how the mice react, you may see a part of yourself. When Haw is finally able to see what he is doing and laughs at himself, he moves on and finds “new cheese”, while Hem remains cocooned in his comfort and fears and is left behind. As Haw progresses through the maze, he writes on the walls what he has learned about change, hoping his friend Hem will find his way. The story ends with Haw realising that when you can read the “Handwriting on the wall”, you can do well in changing times.

The past decade saw an unprecedented upswing and downturn in the high-tech sector. During the early to mid nineties, large companies became obsessed with the need to prepare their systems for Y2K. Realising that they had to scan through millions of lines of legacy code to fix the bug, they hired hundreds of consultants. During this time the dotcom boom too was taking off, requiring hundreds of thousands of coders. This sudden demand for IT professionals caught the industry unawares. Technical schools weren’t producing enough technologists and software professionals were elevated to rock star like status at companies. Many Indians (myself included) were fortunate to partake in this massive rush to fulfil the global demand. A lot has happened since then: The Y2K and dotcom boom have been relegated to history books. The tech sector has all but seen a meltdown; economy has come to a grinding halt and the September 11 terrorists did their bit to help tighten immigration laws.

Changes are going to be a part and parcel of our personal and professional lives. I should know: I still consult for Worldcom that recently declared the largest bankruptcy in corporate history. Gone are the days when one could join a “large faceless” corporation, become an Organisation Man (I’m not trying to be sexist but am quoting the title of famous book by William Whyte titled ‘The Organisation Man’), and go on working for the company till retirement. Even with all the changes taking place around us, recently laid-off and downsised IT professionals are finding it hard to comprehend the sudden change in their professional trajectories but the fact remains: like the mice in ‘Who moved my cheese’, we should have seen it coming. And, having experienced this tumultuous shift in the industry, we should accept the “Handwriting on the wall” and move along.

Change management is especially significant for Indian IT professionals who need to be acutely aware of trends and transformations taking place in the key markets for their services, viz. the US, UK, Canada and other western countries. Indian IT is a part of the global economy and is going to be affected by the upswings and downturns happening in different countries around the world.

Writing this weekly column for ‘IT People’, and constantly receiving and responding to mails from readers from across the globe has made me acutely aware of the havoc that changes can cause in our personal and professional lives. It is hard to theorise about the impact of corporate downsizing and layoffs, change in career paths etc. However, most of us in the IT industry are coming to realise the importance of being prepared for changing times. Networking and keeping skills updated definitely help, but we also need to be aware of the process of preparing for and accepting the changes wrought by business and economic conditions and other external factors.




About the Author

  • A Bio and profile of the author, Mohan Babu, can be found at his homepage
  • Mohan has authored a book on Offshoring and Outsourcing (Publisher McGraw Hill, India), a link to which can be found here
  • Mohan has also authored an Online book on "Life in the US," available for free download.
  • Sponsored Advert

    Advert: Visitor's Travel Insurance

    Click for free online Quotes


    For FAQ, Trivia and Information on Life in America, visit the Ask-A-Desi section

    ©Mohan Babu: All Rights Reserved 2005

    Mohan Babu is an international consultant trying to find the ‘sweet spot’ where IT meets business. E-mail: mohan He is also the author of a recent book on "Offshoring IT Services"

    All rights are reserved. Mohan Babu ("Author") hereby grants permission to use, copy and distribute this document for any NON-PROFIT purpose, provided that the article is used in its complete, UNMODIFIED form including both the above Copyright notice and this permission notice. Reproducing this article by any means, including (but not limited to) printing, copying existing prints, or publishing by electronic or other means, implies full agreement to the above non-profit-use clause. Exceptions to the above, such as including the article in a compendium to be sold for profit, are permitted only by EXPLICIT PRIOR WRITTEN CONSENT of Mohan Babu. 

    Disclaimer: This document represents the personal opinions of the Author, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of the Author's employer, nor anyone other than the Author. This Article was originally published in Express Computers


    GaramChai® 1999-2005