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Maritime Logistics Community News : Autumn 2013
46 MARITIME LOGISTICS COMMUNITY NEWSLETTER SUMMER 2012/AUTUMN 2013 BY MS DONNA KEAN TRAINING AUTHORITY -- HEALTH & MARITIME LOGISTICS -- STRATEGIC ANALYST I first heard of this book whilst I was studying for my Masters and it was continually brought up in conversation over a number of different subjects throughout my studies. These people were students from all over the world and all of them referred to it as one of the most enlightening and profound books they had ever read. Notwithstanding the glowing reviews I had received about this book, it was not until I had finished studying that I finally found the time to read what would have to be the shortest "management book" in history. The book is titled "Who Moved My Cheese" by Dr Spencer Johnson. It was first published in 1999 and is still in print, selling over 21 million copies around the world. The beauty of this book is that not only does it take less than 90 minutes for a slow reader to finish (I tested this theory out on my Partner), but the underlying message of the story is unbelievably simple. You almost laugh at yourself when you realise how simple it is and how you can identify individually with each of the book's characters at different times in your life; or at least that is what I did! The story is metaphorical in nature and is about four characters, "Sniff", "Scurry", "Hem" and "Haw" and they all live in a "Maze" and spend their time looking for and enjoying "Cheese." The "Maze" is meant to represent whatever situation you may find yourself in, such as a posting you may currently have, and the "Cheese" is whatever you value most, such as job security or job satisfaction. The story tells of how each character reacts to a significant change in their life, namely the removal of the "Old Cheese" and the eventual search for "New Cheese" and how each character adapted to the change in their own way. Each character represents a different trait that an individual may possess at different times in their life when they are confronted with change; "Sniff" sniffs out change early (anticipates), "Scurry" scurries into action (embraces), "Hem" denies and resists change as he fears it will lead to something worse (denial), and "Haw" learns to adapt in time when he works out that change can lead to something better (cautious). My favourite part of the book is when "Haw" realises that it is fear of the unknown that is stopping him from taking advantage of the opportunities the change is offering and he finally ventures out into the "Maze" to look for the "New Cheese". Some would say he was brave to do so, but I think he finally realised that he didn't like the alternative to venturing out, which was to stay and become stagnant or extinct. I discussed the book at length with my partner and friends, and discovered that I could identify with all four characters in my behaviour at different points in my life; but I'll only share two with you. It actually took for me to leave the Navy and return to higher education to consider what NGN was trying to offer the Navy in general before I could appreciate its value, which was very "Haw." And, over time I have realised that I get job satisfaction from learning new things and sharing them with others, and actively trying new skills, such as (who would have thought) long distance running, to see that I am now more "Scurry" and want to continue to be so in the future. I do not want to go back to being "Hem" or "Haw" and expect my partner and friends to call me, as a gentle reminder, when they see me performing these traits; let's face it old habits are hard to break! Furthermore, I realised that the book's concept can be attributed to an organisation, which can possess these traits as easily as an individual because the culture of an organisation is the reflection of a group of individual's collective beliefs. Therefore, if an organisation behaves like "Hem" then it will eventually cease to exist or be outsourced, because the rest of the world will pass it by as it develops new ways of doing business and embraces new technologies that will enhance its productivity. This thought then made me consider the recent changes that the ADF has had to adapt to with SRP and the more recent budget cut that saw 1/5th of Defence's budget disappear with what seemed to be no warning. Regardless of the lack of warning or not, what occurred to me was that someone had moved the "Cheese" and the ADF now needed to react in order to cope with the unfamiliar territory that it found itself in; it needed to find "New Cheese," a new way of doing business. Surprisingly, in the short time I have been back working with Navy, since my departure in 2010, I have seen all four character traits portrayed in individual and organisational behaviour. The good news is that from an outsider's perspective I am seeing more "Sniff" and "Scurry" type behaviour than "Hem" or "Haw." This is especially seen in the positive feedback that the Maritime Logisticsand Health Faculty has received so far in regards to the research I am undertaking into alternative and flexible learning packages, which is very "Sniff" and "Scurry". It makes sense that in an organisation driven on teamwork that the more people looking for the "New Cheese" the better chance we will have of finding it. Hence, I am very keen to receive more feedback and ideas from you over the next 12 months as we begin to develop and trial some of these new concepts. Our goal is to improve our training and enhance the maintenance of your professional skills; everything submitted will be given serious consideration. For such a short story, this book has definitely given me a new perspective on how to react and adapt to change in the future and I highly recommend you take to time to read the book. Finally I'll leave you with the question that "Haw" discovers during his journeys through the "Maze" and I intend to ask myself every time a new opportunity presents, "What would you do if you weren't afraid?" Note: if your interest in this story has been piqued and you wish to get your hands on a copy, it can be brought online through sites such as Fishpond and Amazon, or you can borrow a copy through the Defence Library Service which has over 20 copies available around Australia and they can mail it direct to you. Plus, the Library also has a number of copies of the short video version (15 mins) of this book if you want to show it at a Divisional meeting as a way of opening up conversation about a change that may be affecting your Department at the moment. Professional Development Review Who Moved my Cheese? A review of a management book with a difference.