How often have you thought, "Just when I was beginning to get comfortable with the way things are, everything changes". There is something about human nature that seeks stability, certainty and consistency. Yet we find, much to our considerable discomfort, that our society is increasingly a place marked by instability, uncertainty and inconsistency.

In his bestseller, Who Moved My Cheese?, physician Spencer Johnson advises us that we have one of two choices: Anticipate and embrace change, or find ourselves left behind. Johnson conveys this message to us in a parable that can at best be called cute. This is a book that is heavier on the testimonials ("Instant Classic!") than it is on substance, but it is one which can be a useful tool in precisely those places that are still marked by inertia and institutional sclerosis.

Johnson does not cover new ground. Others have discussed the need for change long before this volume appeared. Over the past decade we have seen an enormous output of books, articles and seminars devoted to change and change management. Peter Drucker has, for example, written Managing in a Time of Great Change, and Managing in Turbulent Time. He has for years advocated the importance of systematic organizational abandonment.

In The Age of Uncertainty, Charles Handy observed back in 1990 that we were about to enter "a time when the only prediction that will hold true is that no predictions will hold true; a time, therefore, for bold imaginings in private life as well as public, for thinking the unlikely and doing the unreasonable." We do not know whether Handy was anticipating investing in stocks of high-tech companies that consistently lose money as "doing the unreasonable", but certainly we are in a time when few if any predictions hold true.

Tom Peters wrote in his voluminous Thriving on Chaos that "the winners of tomorrow will deal proactively with chaos, will look at the chaos per se as the source of a market advantage, not as a problem to be got around. Chaos and uncertainty are (will be) market opportunities for the wise." Many talented entrepreneurs have spotted opportunities in the massive shift that has taken us from an industrial economy to a knowledge-based economy.

Change is nothing new. Indeed, in the early years of the 20th century economist Joseph Schumpeter argued that we must abandon old ideas and concepts quickly and embrace new ways of doing things. The elite gathered at the recent meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos found among the panel discussions one entitled, "Leading in an Era of Creative Destruction."

Those who are only now realizing that we are living in a rapidly changing world, where today’s solid, stable organization is tomorrow’s meltdown, are late coming to the party. The fact that this book is a bestseller may prove more helpful than the book itself. Clearly, many individuals throughout every level of organizations still resist change. Johnson’s book can, in a non-threatening, easily digestible way, force those who don’t want to deal with change to think about it.

The strength of the book is not the parable itself, but the conversation Johnson includes afterward. This is not a book that one should read and put on the bookshelf; rather, this is a book that a group should read together, and then discuss in detail afterward. Johnson touches on the critical questions we need to ask ourselves: With what character in the parable do we most readily identify ourselves? Why? What is it about change that causes us to hesitate or frightens us? What would make change more palatable to us as individuals and within our organizations?

The fact that this book is a bestseller should serve as a clarion call to executives in organizations of all sizes that even in an era when the word "change" is on most individuals’ lips, many are still very uncomfortable with change. They have not taken responsibility for change in their own lives and in the lives of the companies they work for. There are still far too many individuals who bump along in organizations day to day thinking that not much will change. Those companies are the ones that find themselves in deep trouble before too long.

One of the characters in the book laments, "I wanted to stay in familiar territory. The truth is, I didn’t want to deal with the change. I didn’t even want to see it." Read those words again. Do they describe you even a bit? Do they describe your organization? Do they describe the leadership of the company you work for? If your answer is yes, then this book might be the first step to learning how to deal with change, if not embrace it. As much as we might seek stability, we live in an era when constant change is now, along with death and taxes, a certainty.