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Fish Philosophy

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Fish Philosophy

The Fish! philosophy started at Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle. Fishmongers turned a money-losing, morale-draining business into a world-famous attraction by deciding to have fun at work—largely by tossing fish around and joking with customers. Out of this turnaround came four Fish! principles: play, make their day, be there, and choose your attitude.

Companies can learn from this example. To create an exciting workplace, employees need to learn how to play, just as the fishmongers toss fish. To “make their day,” employees must interact with clients so they, too, have a positive experience. To “be there,” employees need to be focused (not mentally in several places) and actively engaged to have fun. And “choose your attitude” says that everyone has the power to choose how they feel at work.

For example, Layoffs and cutbacks had sapped staff morale at Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton, Massachusetts, and the employee satisfaction team couldn’t figure out how to improve the situation. Then, someone mentioned Fish!—a set of principles for creating positive attitudes at work. After viewing the Fish! video during a fish fry, managers and staff started celebrating birthdays, enjoying ice cream breaks, and hosting a Christmas holiday gift-wrapping service. Morale soared. “The FISH team is keeping employee satisfaction out front,” says Cooley Dickinson’s director of guest services. “That stuff doesn’t happen by accident.”

Some more examples include:


YouSigma. (2008). “Fish Philosophy." From

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