Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Fish Philosophy

I have now attended seminars on the Fish philosophy twice, but have yet to incorporate what I've learned when I return to the office. For those unfamiliar with the Fish philosophy, it is based on the fish stand at Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington. The employees there have taken a seemingly dirty, smelly, unappreciated job and turned it into something fun. So fun, in fact, that it's become a tourist attraction in Seattle. If you go to Pike Place Farmer's Market, you'll see them laughing, engaging with the crowds, and throwing fish. Few people leave there without wishing they could work there, too.

So how do they do it? How do they turn a thankless, malodorous, cold, wet job into a place that people come on their lunch breaks and wish they could work at? They employee these four principles:
  • Be there
  • Play
  • Make Their Day
  • Choose Your Attitude
They goof around and joke with each other and the crowds passing by. They meet the eyes of shoppers and are present when they speak with them. They invite passersby to don aprons and then throw them some fish. They choose to be outrageous. They laugh. They don't take themselves seriously. They play. It all seems so easy.

And yet, it's not that easy. Seminars are given on how to adopt the Fish philosophies in the workplace. A book has been written about it. Managers all over the world have tried to introduce the principles to their work groups. But none of them have become the world class fish throwers that the philosophy was based on.

Why is that? There are doubtless hundreds of reasons why others struggle with making work more fun. Maybe it doesn't seem like work if there's too much "playing." Maybe one person's idea of fun isn't the same as the rest of the group's. Maybe they're trying too hard to create a "fun" environment when fun really needs to be spontaneous and not something taught or enforced.

I know the most enjoyable places I've worked embraced an atmosphere of fun, but it wasn't because we took a class on the Fish philosophy or started throwing toys around in an attempt to create a more playful environment. The Fish philosophy should be nothing more than inspiration, but instead, it's become a doctrine to adopt.
Can this be right? Can fun be mandated? I'll let you know. Tomorrow at work, we're going to have fun.  I know, because it's on the agenda.

1 comment:

  1. "Tomorrow at work, we're going to have fun. I know, because it's on the agenda."

    Lol yeah, I think that right there exemplifies how most companies approach it.