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Who DID Move the Cheese?

When I was a medical records underling (that was my title, too. 'Underling') at a big city hospital, I and the other underlings were at a deparment meeting where we were shown a little movie called: 'Who moved the Cheese?' The movie was taken from the book of the same name which was told in an overly cute way as a parable. You know, like none of us watching this were real adults, but collectively had the mental age of six year olds. The manager who had the brainwave to show the movie was about twenty-four and had come almost directly from the school that taught her kind, St. Scholastica, in chilly Duluth Minnesota.

I used to call these St. Scholastica degrees 'magical' degrees because they seemed to be all that was required to run a medical record department, even though the degree holders (I would complain scornfully) had never been in one. I'm in that program now, so, I can say that it turns out I was wrong. But not by much. There are tours of medical records departments and internships of several weeks, but experience really isn't required. Nope. Not at all.

I probably should have resented the manager who was showing us this demeaning movie more than I did, but she was cute, wore short skirts and had long tan legs. So, I forgave her. At that time, I was building my house in Wisconsin and knew that I wasn't long for that job, and if they suddenly wanted to run the place like it was a nursery school, then who was I to complain? I was going to be leaving in a couple of months and all I cared about was having a job for those couple of months.

I've got to say, they presented this movie to us with a great deal of smug triumph, like they had just discovered Plutonium or something. It's pretty trite, really, when you get down to it, and there are tons better ways to make the point. Anyways, here's how 'Who moved the Cheese?' goes: There are two tiny men. They live in a huge maze. In the maze there is a pile of cheese. One day the cheese is moved. The smart tiny man goes and finds the new location of the cheese. The dumb tiny man keeps going to the same place and complains when he can't find any cheese. The End. The message is that it's necessary to be able to accept change.

My, that's profound! And putting in the form of a children's fairy tale is not in the slightest bit insulting to grown adults who think they're doing a serious job. Not ... at ... all. Well, possibly management was trying to prepare us in a healthy and positive way for a number of changes they were planning to institute, but what I got from this was that they were going to pull a bunch of crap and they wanted to prepare us to shut up and not question what they were doing.

My problem with the this movie was that they never did answer the question of 'who moved the cheese?' and that's the whole crux of the matter. Who are these cheese movers? Are they supposed to represent management, and if they do, was our management identifying with them, telling us that they wanted us to consider them remote and God-like, like the omniscentcheese movers of the movie? Did they consider us like insignificant laboratory animals whom they could cruelly manipulate as their whim dictated? Was the maze supposed to represent our work environment - a frustrating, pointless, puzzle that we were trapped in and couldn't escape from? Didthey think this was a good work environment to provide their employees?

Why was the cheese moved? What advantage was there to the new location as opposed to the old location? More importantly, why was this decision made without any input at all from the primary cheese users themselves, the tiny little men? Surely, the people who had the most stake in the location of the cheese and who were most involved with its use and consumption should have something to say about it. Don't you think?

You see, they were teaching us, for sure, but the message that they thought they were giving us wasn't the one being received. I imagine that they thoughtthey were impressing us with the clever way they made their point, with a simple, engaging story. But, really, they were showing us that to themwe were silly, whining children.

About the Author: Steve Sommers new book, Evil Super-Villains Need Love, Too ... and other important wisdom, is available at
His novel, REXROI, is available at

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