Customer Reviews: Fish! A Remarkable Way To Boost Morale And Improve Results
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on April 6, 2002
FISH is written in a parable (short story using fictional characters) format, reminiscent of the style apparent in the classic, bestseller The One Minute Manager. The goal of the FISH Philosophy is to learn how to boost morale and improve operational results in a business organization. As the authors put it "Enclosed are the keys to creating an innovative and accountable work environment where a playful, attentive, and engaging attitude leads to more energy, enthusiasm, productivity, and creativity."
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
they preach."
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.
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on February 24, 2000
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."
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.
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on November 29, 2000
Fish is simple. The book espouses 4 principles that are simple to understand yet often missing in most workplaces. Reading this book will help any business leader/manager look for ways to involve their employees in making their jobs fun and enjoyable and thereby a place they want to be. I manage the accounting and finance areas of my organization and I purchased Fish for all my employees. We have begun meeting and discussing ways to apply the principles found in Fish, the first dealing directly with the employee and their attitude when they walk in the door. The attitude they bring to work will effect their day and the effect the people around them. Fish leads you from helping your employees understand the importance of their attitude to helping them make the workplace vibrant and enjoyable for everyone. There are a million books in the marketplace telling you how to make your employee's lives easier. Fish tackles the concept that the employee is responsible for taking the first step to make the organization a great place. Too often, we are told the company makes the people. The fact is, the people make the company. Fish will help you decide whether to allow your people to languish or lead them to a better and happier life and job.
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on September 5, 2000
What does a "Toxic Energy Dump" and throwing fish have to do with life, especially performance in the workplace? A great deal according to the authors of The Fish.
In this parable you learn very quickly and easily how to turn around a "toxic" environment. Although the solutions may sound simple and obvious, they remind us - that regardless of our position in an organization, it's a great thing to find enjoyment and satisfaction in our ordinary day-to-day work lives. The writers provide simple descriptions of what attitude and fun can do to turn around the "toxic energy dump" in the workplace. The fable and principles show you how to bring hope and excitement to the people who perform the "back room" functions.
This book is a quick read, with principles that are easy to grasp and apply. Laughter and fun are great bridge builders between people - I encourage you to try The Fish and see how these principles are used to build bridges not only at a renowned fish market in Seattle, but between people within a back room department and other departments.
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on April 4, 2000
Can creativity and enthusiasm be learned from a smelly, fishmonger?
You bet! One of the most important values I learned from this book is that it's possible to gain wisdom from some of the most unsuspecting places. Never judge a book by its cover... you could be missing out on a lot!
One thing that I will never understand about society is how easily we get trapped into ruts in our professional and personal lives. Yet, we do nothing to rectify the situation. Complaining doesn't count, my friends!
With thousands of business "How-to" books flooding the market, Fish! is a welcome change as it tackles some very important issues in a fun and easily understood manner.
In this engrossing parable, a single mom/corporate manager is given a seemingly impossible task. She is responsible for turning an office that has been described as a toxic-energy dump into an enthusiastic and productive environment.
Overcome with fear of losing her job, the book's main character, Mary Jane, loses hope and retreats to her own private world every lunch hour as she walks the downtown Seattle streets. One afternoon she walks to the world-famous Pike Street Fish Market for the first time. Little did she know that when she met a smelly fishmonger named Lonnie, it would be the beginning of a wonderful new life!
If you are content to live with whatever life throws your way, this book is not for you. If you feel that you hold within your hands the power to change your destiny, this book is an effective tool that will help you on your path to success. Endorsed by some of the world's most successful businessmen, Fish! is a surprisingly important book you can't afford to miss.
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on March 18, 2004
I like having fun and being entertained, and I really liked the ideas in this book. But marketed as a business book?
Let me set some boudries, first of all, to show you how important I think the material is. If this was Doctor Suess- like book, marketed and written with my kids in mind, I would be cool: five stars easlily. If it was marketed as a self-help book for reframing your attitude, it would get four, maybe five stars. If it were a hippy/ new-age book about just being and enjoying life, five stars plus.
However, as a business book, it is pure fluff.
I was forced to watch this in a corporate setting. Instead of fostering honest, human fun amongst our workforce, it seemed like an invitation for many on the management staff to work on trivial activities. Using Covey's "Seven Habits" and "First Things First" language, they were spending their time in Quadrant 4 of the time management matrix (unimportant, not urgent), instead of the stewardship that comes from Quadrant 2 (important,not urgent).
And employees were ignored while these managers "played," bringing in megaphones and making silly videos. If you want to find out about how to create good customer service, try "Customers for Life," "Raving Fans," or "Hug Your Customers." If you want to motivate your workforce, "The Streetwise Guide to Motivating and Rewarding Your Employees," or a reprint of the HBR article by Herzberg, "Once Again, How do You Motivate Your Employees?" is an excellent place to start.
This book, from my experience, will likely lead to the denial of serious issues, which are actually a blast to tackle in my experience.
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on May 21, 2002
One of the most telling points in "Fish" comes late in the book. AFTER the bit about having your employees have a "designated creativity area" called "The Sand Box" (ugh). And AFTER the bit about having employees walk around on colored circles of paper, reading out the ideas for improving their workplace when the music stops on them (gag).
No, my favorite part is when the fictional employees on the "Choose Your Attitude" team suggest that their co-workers read "Personal Accountability: The Path to A Rewarding Work Life." No mention is made of the fact that that book is written by THE SAME AUTHOR as "Fish"! But, then again, this clearly isn't aimed at anyone with an IQ over about 80...
If you feel your employees will benefit from reading this book, then you clearly do not have an intelligent workforce. Rather than spending money on this brain-numbing parable, why not try to hire some employees who don't need the obvious explained to them?
What's next in this "dumbing down" of Corporate America, anyway? A parable to convince employees that bathing is in their best interests?!?
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HALL OF FAMEon October 7, 2000
The title sounds "FISHY" but the contents do deliver concrete information on making everyone's work day more pleasant, while gaining happier customers. There are only 112 fast-reading pages in this new book, but they provide a wealth of knowledge and things to think about. Seattle's Pike Place Fish Market provided the fundamentals for this book which can be used in any work environment and situation- office work as well as front-line work. You'll learn eye-opening fundamentals and common sense approaches to dealing with customers and staff actions and accountability, that produce not only happier customers, but happier staff members as well. Did I find any magic formula in this book to accomplish all of this? Not really. But there's a wealth of stuff to think about. The fundamentals presented are: Choose Your Attitude, Make Their Day, and Be There. The principles taught by this book are currently being used by organizations all over the world with great success being reported. The FISH pilosophy is relevant to nearly every issue facing business today: productivity, teamwork, quality improvement, customer service, creativity and innovation, employee turnover and job satisfaction. What else is there ? Simple lessons are presented, teaching managers how to energize staff and how to result in a completely improved workplace. The information is easy to learn and apply. The principles presented are a win-win for everyone from management, to staff, to customers. Well worth reading !!
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on February 8, 2008
What irritates me about this book is the idea that an employee's attitude is the problem. The premise seems to be: Hate your job? It's your attitude!

There is no allowance made for the fact that perhaps there is a REASON that people might hate their job.

Perhaps they are made to follow rules that don't make sense. Perhaps they see what they need to accomplish, but lack the training or resources to get it done. Perhaps the office environment is old, crumbling, the bathrooms don't work, and the printer keeps jamming.

In other words, if employees are unhappy, then you need to find out WHY they are unhappy and FIX it.

Don't just tell them to change their attitude. Sure that might be the case with a few hardcore cynical people. But most of us WANT to do a good job. We only get cynical when we are prevented from doing so.

So look for tangible obstacles to your employees work, and remove them.

The attitude will take care of itself.

And, for the love of god and all that's holy, don't give them this stupid book.
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on September 7, 2005
Having fun at work...a great concept, but Lundin's book is meant for a 5th grade mind, not a fully functional adult. The theory behind the book is relevant but Lundin's delivery is all too simplified and doesn't have practical application of how to do this. And what's more, Lundin gets hired to go to big corporations to throw FISH dolls around for $1000's of dollars. The problem is that he's there for a half day and once he's gone, the fish dolls gather dust.

If you want to change your workplace, it takes more than throwing a stuffed fish doll around. You have to have a set of values that honors people and find ways to execute on those values EVERY day.

But you have to give Lundin credit, he's made an empire out of books meant for elementary school as well as over-priced workshops and DVDs that all say the same message.

But if you're a smart and intelligent leader, bypass this simpleton text and do some research over at the Harvard Business Review....
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