Cheese on the move!

In News6 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineMarch 18, 2022

By Lindsay Wood, Director, Resilienz Ltd.

This could be about supermarket logistics, or the rise of vegetarianism – or the connection between cheese, the Hindenburg airship disaster, and the Trucking Towards a Better Future competition.

That’s because the competition isn’t just about inventing gadgets, or new ways to set out road cones. It could be about how we make the best of new ideas or new circumstances.

And in case nobody has noticed, we’re living in such a sea of new circumstances it’s hard to figure out what ‘normal’ looks like anymore. Whether it’s the horrors of war, or builders unable to get Gib for months, we’re constantly adjusting and still can’t catch up (just like trying to catch up with skyrocketing fuel prices).

So where does cheese fit in? Well, there’s a cool little change management book that recently celebrated its 20th birthday, and it’s called Who Moved My Cheese?

For starters, the book’s a wonderful example for anyone tempted to give the Trucking Towards a Better Future competition a go, because it says loud and clear ‘you don’t need to be an expert to have a great idea’.

Although Who Moved My Cheese? has become one of the all-time best selling business books, it wasn’t written by a change specialist, or even by a manager, it was written by a medical doctor, Spencer Johnson, who also wrote kids stories! Maybe Johnson saw things through fresh eyes and brought valuable insights, just like a trucker might when seeing how a particular business manages its warehouse.

The key characters are two mice, Sniff and Scurry, and two indecisive mini-humans, Hem and Haw. (“Best-selling business book?” “Yeah, right!”). They’re exploring a labyrinth and discover Cheese Station C, with seemingly inexhaustible supplies of cheese.

Hem and Haw know they’re set for life and settle into a comfortable, extravagant lifestyle dependent on cheese. Sniff and Scurry are more wary, know the supply might dwindle, and plan accordingly.

I’m sure you’ve got the drift. When Sniff and Scurry find the cheese gone they are ready, and set off to find more. But, when Hem and Haw discover Cheese Station C is empty, they get angry, fearful, and blame each other. “Who Moved My Cheese?” demands Hem…

Hem gets entrenched in disappointment and refuses to budge, but Haw accepts the reality and prepares for a quest into the unknown. Before leaving he writes on the wall “What Would You Do If You Weren’t Afraid?” and then, as he explores, he writes more, partly hoping Haw will follow the trail, partly because he finds it clears his own mind.

He even starts enjoying the challenge, and his thoughtful messages become a toolkit for coping with change.

Dial forward to 2022, and say some wonderful freight scheduler had a wonderful idea promising great fuel savings, great emissions reductions, and easier schedules, but drivers resisted it. (“Us? Nah! Never!”). Maybe a great entry in the competition could be how to help everybody get on board more easily with new ideas. Maybe a “Yes If” process, or a genuine way to discuss concerns, or…

I like the old mantra ‘to improve the product improve the process’, and whether it’s decarbonising transport, or handling inflation on steroids, lessons from Cheese Station C might come in handy.

Jump to Berlin’s ginormous 2018 Innotrans transport expo, where I chatted with a champion of new hydrogen buses from QBuzz in the Netherlands. “We’ve got two, and twenty on order,” he told me. “They’re fantastic: quieter, cleaner, safer, but the drivers hated them.”

“That’s brave,” I said, “ordering twenty more buses drivers hate.”

“Oh it’s sorted,” he said. “Management was stupid: they should have involved drivers in the selection and design processes.”

He gave a wry smile. “The drivers were rather stupid too. They didn’t like where the door controls were positioned, so tried to totally discredit both buses by nicknaming them Hindenburg One and Hindenburg Two!”

“Who moved my cheese door control?!”

Have you got a simple way of making the world better and more efficient, especially from a supply chain and general business perspective? Then enter the 2022 Trucking Toward a Better Future competition. To find out how, read the rules, and check the terms and conditions, click here: