Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Move with the Cheese

Joe, name changed, is a seasoned programmer. He has mastered the art of coding over the years and is extremely methodical and effective. Watching him juggle with the desktop often reminds me of a painter with a painting-brush in his hands and canvas in front of him asking him to pour all his skill, imagination and passion for the art. Joe, undoubtedly, is a genius in his own rights.

Peter is a budding programmer. Young Peter is extremely talented and is filled with the exuberance of youth. He is always ready to what Rajiv Popat calls “make a small dent in the universe”. He came up with an idea of introducing TDD in our team. TDD requires a drastic change in approach to Software Development. Joe is a conventional. He has mastered and art being conventional for years and is extremely confident and comfortable in doing his job the conventional way. The time and sweat he has invested in mastering the conventional way of software development should not be wasted. Joe resisted.

Apparently the reaction might appear reasonable to many of us. Is it a healthy one? Let’s try analyze.

I read this book called Who Moved My Cheese few months back which might help us come to a conclusion. The story has four character, two mice - Snif and Scurry and two "little people" - Hem and Haw. Every day they would go out into the Maze looking for Cheese. One day they found a Cheese station with ample of Cheese to satisfy their needs for ever. They happily settled down there hoping that they will never be wandering in the Maze in search of the Cheese again. They started making future plans assuming that the Cheese was theirs forever.

One day, they woke to find that the Cheese station was empty. The mice bound by their nature did not yell or moan. Moreover, they had been noticing that the amount Cheese was decreasing every day. They somehow were anticipating this coming. They moved on in search of new Cheese immediately. But the little people were little people after all. How could they let go of the Cheese which was a right and not just a privilege? Not done. They must raise their voice. They must bitch and cry. The world is conspiring against them. They must get to the bottom of things and find out why this injustice was brought to them.

Hem said that they should not keep quiet. They are not just mice. They are little people. They are smarter. This is when Haw suggested that aren’t really acting any smarter. They should be going out in the Maze again and search for new Cheese. Hem refused to listen to him.

Haw alone set out in search of Cheese again. It was tough and challenging but Haw kept counseling himself to remain positive. Soon he started liking and enjoying this ride. It was a refreshing experience.

After searching for a while, Haw found a new Cheese station, bigger and better than the old one. He saw the two mice already were here and had reaped the benefits of responding early to the change. Haw started a little late but still took the challenge and adapted to the change. His Cheese was here for the taking. What happened to Hem remains a mystery.

Cheese here is a metaphor for our means of happiness and the Maze signifies the big wide world full of challenges and uncertainties. But you must run into the Maze to find your share of Cheese. Every now and then you will find your Cheese being moved. You must move accordingly in order to survive. The smartest of people will keep their eyes open and anticipate change and will be the first to adapt. They will reap the ‘early bird’ benefits. The less smart ones will see the change late. Their response would be reactive rather than proactive. They would still survive and do well because they have moved with the Cheese. And then there is the third kind. These people would resist to the change. They will yell, cry, lament, moan and complain but all they will not do is adapting to the change. They are destined to extinct.

Joe must take a leaf out of this book. He must push himself out of his "comfort zone". He must run into ‘Maze’ and believe in the fact that he will definitely have his share of the 'Cheese'


Anonymous said...

Pessimists wait for the change, they say time will change things, while optimists go ahead and make the change. In fact, they act as a catalyst for change. It’s good to get inspired but it would be great if we take these concepts out of book and live them in our real lives. Let’s chant “tathastu”…

itsme said...

i will only say this blog is out of the box .i mean to say this is full of motivation as usal ansu da wrote on his favrote topic "motivation" .
but i just want to say one thing, english used in this blog is too good but i was facing some problem because my vocab is not so good as it is used in blog .

i have one request to ansu da please write some simple vocab because i am very keen to read your blog .its always motivate me but if u write in a more simple way and with some interesting punch .it make me more keen.


Anshuman Srivastava said...

Thanks for your suggestion pankaj. I will definitely try to keep that in mind in my future posts.

Anshuman Srivastava said...

You are right Nitesh. And that is the hard part. But if you look around you will find all successfull people have one thing is common ... they respond to change quickly.

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Biraj said...

A very insightful view. We should take a lesson out of this and be quick in responding to changes.
As they say, "Survival of the fittest!!!".
Thanks Anshu Da