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Fish: A Proven Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results Hardcover – March 8, 2000
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The four key points of the philosophy are:
* Play - have fun and create energy at home or at the office.
* Make their day - how can you engage fellow employees, customers and make each other's day?
* Be Present - How can you make sure you are fully available and aware during conversations with people? It is about create a greater sense of intimacy between individuals.
* Choose Your Attitude - Each day you choose how you are going to act or which "side of the bed" you wake up on. The choice is yours and, the way you act, affects others.
In my opinion, this business parable, like the rest of them, is great and horrible at the same time.
It is a great read for the following reasons:
1. It is a quick read. I read it in about 2 - 2.5 hours and I am a fairly slow reader.
2. The book is able to illustrate one point extremely effectively. For example, in this book they show how workers attitudes can impact a setting and how many of us don't understand how our attitude impacts our work setting and quality of life.
3. These are the kinds of books that employees will read as they are 100-150 pages in length and easy to read so a massive investment of time and energy isn't required by employees.
It is a poor book for the following reasons:
1. The authors never give you ways to implement the ideas. Once I was done reading the book I was thinking, "WOW, this is great stuff. Now how do I implement it in my company and, more importantly, what will it take for this to be successful." Which leads me to the next point...
2. While they illustrate certain key elements in the book they neglect to mention that:
a. Employees must trust management.
b. Top managers must be fully committed and "practice what
c. Both of the above points are conveyed in the story but
the authors don't tell you about the importance of what
academics term "social capital" in an organization.
My concluding thoughts: This is a brief, simple, but elegant book that is an eye opener for those of us who grew up with notions like: "Work is serious, let's have no fooling around!" or "Profit is 'the only' way to measure business success." I commend the authors on conveying this to readers. HOWEVER, the cons outweigh the pros in this book. Like I pointed out, I really enjoyed reading the book and thought it was pretty effective in showing how an organization can completely turn around but, at the end of the day, no tools were presented to help the reader understand how to implement the FISH philosophy. If top managers don't cooperate or "practice what they preach" or understand why and how this philosophy works it goes nowhere, just like most management programs designed to attain all of the above mentioned goals of productivity, energy, etc.
If you want a great book on business principles I highly encourage everyone to read "The Essential Drucker" by Peter Drucker. Jack Welch is a big Drucker fan and this book is a compilation of his best work of over 60 years and 30 books on management principles.
The story is told in the context of a familiar business departmental crisis. Traditional management processes have failed and those who tried to implement change left convinced that conditions would never improve in that department (nicknamed the "Toxic Energy Dump").
A new departmental manager is assigned; she must find and implement new solutions or suffer the burden of defeat experienced by her predecessors.
Serendipitously, during her lunch break, she discovers a fish market that does not fit preconceptions for that environment most of us would have, i.e., hard, tedious work under unpleasant, uncomfortable conditions. What she does experience is a group of people who are totally involved with their customers, having a lot of fun, and selling lots of fish!
She asks one of the fishmongers about how they do this. And so begins the odyssey that uncovers the four key lessons she applies to turn her department around. I believe that these lessons are cornerstones for success both at work and in personal life. The lessons may seem simple and obvious, but they are based the deep needs we all have to feel that we matter, to contribute to others, and to enjoy our work.
I attended the first "Fish Camp" in Minneapolis that Steve Lundin and his associates facilitated (they did a great job); I left with the lessons contained in this book. I have discussed these lessons with almost all of the executives I currently coach and have concluded, from their comments, that they both appreciate and apply these insights with success in their work/personal lives and settings. This book is a useful tool in helping people, and groups of people, reframe how they see their work; many discover that they can find enjoyment and satisfaction in their ordinary day-to-day work lives.