The world’s largest selling business book — Spencer Johnson’s Who Moved My Cheese? — is a brand now. The Spencer Johnson Foundation, a global powerhouse in leadership and change training, whose client list extends from McDonald’s to Mercedes, has given a form and structure to the property, Who Moved My Cheese?. Curtis Bateman, president & CEO, Spencer Johnson Foundation, tells HT how exactly the brand and business work.
How can you do business with a brand that is called ‘Who Moved My Cheese?’?
It brings a great deal of credibility to what we do as business. And we are maintaining it strongly — through its own website, through all our marketing and in all the tools we offer in our consulting and training business, drawn and developed around the idea in the book. Under this brand, we do a lot of things as a process that deal with change and leadership, at the individual, team and company levels. That a good number of organisations come back to us and recommend us to other organisations is proof that the brand and what it has to offer works. You see, we not only deal with change and leadership management, we have also added measurement tools to gauge their effectiveness, thereby bringing in accountability.
What have you found to be the biggest challenge in leadership and change?
The most common challenge is one of leadership. Once leaders have made an announcement for change, they believe they have done their work. They fail to get involved in the process of change, believing the responsibility for that lies somewhere lower down the line. Such disengagement on their part ensures the change process becomes ineffective.
Does change really have to happen at the top first?
The definition of the reasons for the change, defining the factors responsible and desirable must happen at the top first.
People are resistant to change. How do you deal with that?
People by nature resist change because they are insecure about how it will affect them. We first try and help the organisation understand the change it needs to bring about, before moving on to engage people to the idea of that change. The tipping point — where employees buy into the need for change — is critical among the masses within an organisation. Our effort is to help people see the cha-nge is about moving from so-mething to something better.
Since every market is different, couldn’t there be instances of force-fitting your tools and models to different situations?
We work with local partners in different countries precisely because we understand that the challenges and needs of leadership and change vary across them. Our tools just provide effective ways of identifying your needs and solutions. Our approach to change works because it focuses on people. A lot of the issues, challenges and patterns of behaviour among people within organisations are the same.
How important is India to your business?
It’s very important, being the 12the largest economy. It’s a very exciting market where fast growth has its own challenges. It’s a market where people take up ideas and figure out how to do them better and more cost-effectively. That’s fantastic but involves a lot of organisational struggle, which is where we come in.