ASQ - Team and Workplace Excellence Forum

Online Edition — December 2002

In this Issue
Customer-Supplier Communication Systems: 360° Communications Loops
Get Off the Island!
Bridging the Gap at Work
From Our Readers
Letter to the Editor
FISH! The Book and the Video: A Review
Chapter News


Book Nook
Our Readers Say...
Editorial: From Our Perspective
What's Up?

December 2002 News for a Change—Home Page

NFC Index

AQP Home

The Book and the Video: A Review

FISH! A Remarkable Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results
by Stephen C. Lundin, Ph.D., Harry Paul, and John Christensen

Hyperion, 2002
ISBN: 0786866020

Hardcover, 112 pages.
Price: $19.95

In the front of this book, there is an endorsement from Richard Sulpizio, president and chief operating officer of Qualcomm, who says “Fish! is not just a book about boosting morale and motivating employees. It’s a book about life…about how we should live our daily life and how we interact with family members, friends, and people we meet on the street….”

This is a great assessment of the book and its message. The book is easy to read, especially if you’re someone like me who enjoys a good story but has been known to doze off during lectures or when trying to plod through a lot of text. Here the message is conveyed through a parable, similar to (although I dislike making comparisons) Who Moved My Cheese? and Gung Ho!

The story follows a fictional manager in a Seattle office as she looks for ideas to help improve the morale and the reputation of the work team for which she just has taken responsibility. She finds hope—and great ideas—at the world famous Pike Place Fish Market, where she meets some of the team members and observes them putting their philosophy into action. There are four key elements, they tell her, to their becoming world famous and to their continued success, and these elements are not only good for the business but also for the people working there.

The elements are:

  1. Choose your attitude.
  2. Play.
  3. Make their day.
  4. Be present.

What sticks with me most after reading the book is that, although we may not currently be working in our dream job, we all can choose our attitudes. We can choose how we approach our work (and our co-workers, customers, family members, etc.). When we choose to make the most of each day, whether at work or in our personal relationships, we can have a big impact on how we view (and do) things, and we can enjoy each day to the fullest. There may be no way to avoid some of the stresses of work and life in general, but we all have the power to choose how we react in any given situation.

FISH! is a story about unleashing energy and creativity and using it to improve your workplace and relationships. Any business or individual can apply the ideas from this book, and it really does not require much in terms of additional resources or training to put the principles into action.


FISH! Catch the Energy, Release the Potential

Charthouse Learning Corporation, 1998.
Running time: 17 minutes

VHS rental price: $250 (for seven days)
VHS purchase price: $690

The “FISH!” video transports you to the world famous Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle, WA, and shows the FISH! philosophy in action. You get to watch the fish guys play with customers and with fish. John, the owner, shares that this is not necessarily about throwing fish—it does not have to be about fish at all. This short video covers the four elements also included in the FISH! book.

If you love your job, it will show. And when that shows, it will likely affect others around you as well. When you are having fun at work, time goes by more quickly.

As one of the fish guys says in the video, from the moment you get out of bed each day, you have to start making choices. If you choose to go to work, you can choose to try to have a positive day.

A person embraces the FISH! philosophy when he or she finds ways to have energy, commitment, and fun at work.

Of the two FISH! sources, my favorite was the book. As I mentioned earlier, I like stories, and the book provides a story to read and contemplate. For me, the video was too short; however, I could see using the video at a staff meeting or training session, mainly because it is so brief. One could show the video and then build on the FISH! philosophy through large- or small-group exercises and/or discussion of the four elements.

As a side note, I had an opportunity to experience the “fish guys” in person at the national AQP Spring Conference in Las Vegas in March 2002. You definitely had to have a sense of “play,” and you also had to “be present” as they involved the audience in a competitive fish-passing (yes, with a real fish) activity. It was a great demonstration of how they have learned to make their workplace and their work more enjoyable.


JOKAY HABERSTOK is a senior operations specialist with Fluor Hanford Company in Richland, WA. In her current role, she researches and prepares technical and administrative procedures. Her articles on communications, recognition, and the use of evaluations/feedback to improve training and other processes have been published in The Journal for Quality and Participation and AQP Report. A charter member, past secretary, and current publicity chair of the AQP “Quest for Quality” chapter, she was the recipient of the Judy Gibson Volunteer Award for outstanding contributions to AQP in 1996.

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