4 min read ⌚
A Remarkable Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results
What can a fish market teach you about management?
Read our summary to find out.
Who Should Read “Fish!”? And Why?
“Fish!” is a story about Mary Jane, who has just gotten the promotion of the nightmares.
At least that what she thinks until she stumbles upon the Pike Place Fish Market. There she learns the inspiring management philosophy that might change her life!
The authors of “Fish!” teach readers those secrets by telling this engaging tale. We recommend this entertaining, easy to read and even easier to remember book to all managers, students, change agents, executives, and staff members.
We promise you will be inspired.
About Stephen C. Lundin, Harry Paul, and John Christensen
Stephen C. Lundin is a writer, filmmaker, and entrepreneur who runs a corporate membership seminar series for the Institute for Creativity and Innovation at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis.
Harry Paul is a bestselling author and a senior vice president with the Ken Blanchard Companies. He has more than three decades of experience in management and consulting.
John Christensen is a CEO of ChartHouse Learning Corporation, a writer, and a filmmaker.
Mary Jane Ramirez is a mother and a wife who lives in Southern California, who, after her husband gets a dream job offer in Seattle, moves there with her family. Soon after, Mary Jane lands a great job in the new city as well. Everyone is happy.
One day, during her work hours, Mary Jane gets a phone call that her husband is in a hospital.
She doesn’t get there on time – her husband is already dead when she arrives.
Mary Jane cannot get over her husband’s death, even after two years have passed.
Luckily, her career goes well – her team enjoys an excellent reputation, and everyone respects her.
Then, she gets the bad news. She is promoted to a manager.
However, the team she is in charge of is the operations group on the third floor, a group of unpleasant, slow and negative employees. This place is otherwise known as the “toxic waste dump.”
She is the third person to get this kind of “promotion” in two years.
Five weeks go by, and Mary Jane has a hard time. She understands how that floor got its reputation.
Nevertheless, she refused to give up. Instead, she tried to understand the employees’ motifs for having that job. She came up to the conclusion that most of them were there because of security, benefits or salary.
Yet, they didn’t seem to understand that their security is an illusion.
While she was thinking all of those things, her boss called to ask her if she has solved the third-floor problem. He asked her to go for a meeting to discuss it.
Mary Jane did not know what she was going to say to that meeting, but she decided to think about it later and go for lunch.
Instead of going to the usual place (the cafeteria), Mary Jane decided to walk to the fish market.
There, she found a “large crowd of well-dressed people clustered around one of the fish markets.” One fishmonger shouted: “Good afternoon yogurt dudes!”
People smiled waving yogurt cups into the air.
The next thing Mary Jane was aware of was a giant fish salmon flying through the air. The worker that threw it yelled out: “One salmon flying away to Minnesota.”
Another worker made a “fish” talk, teasing a small boy.
Mary Jane had to wonder what she had stumbled upon. She was surprised and delighted by the energy in that place.
Then, she stumbled upon Lonnie, a stranger whom she told all about her problems at work, even though she didn’t know if she could confide in him.
Lonnie listened to her and then told her that working at the fish market saved his life.
But what struck her was him telling her that the fish market was a “toxic waste dump,” just like the third floor of her workplace, when he first started.
Then, he told her that he could teach her the secret that transformed the place.
If she wanted to know more, she had to return, since he had customers waiting to be served.
And if you want to know more – scroll down.
Key Lessons from “Fish!”
1. Secret Number One: Attitude
2. Secret Number Two: Play!
3. Secret Number Three: Make Their Day
4. Secret Number Four: Be Present
Secret Number One: Attitude
The way you do the work is everything.
Mary Jane remembered the dinners she had at her grandmother’s place as a child, and how her grandmother had all the children help with dishwashing.
No one in this world likes washing dishes, but Mary Jane remembered how her grandmother made it so fun, that the grandchildren felt left out if they didn’t join and help.
Secret Number Two: Play!
The second time Mary Jane went to the fish market along with her children. Lonnie made them enjoy themselves, while actively involving them in work.
After a while, Mary Jane realized that the second secret was to play.
Business should be serious, but one shouldn’t forget playing with the approach they have to conduct it.
Secret Number Three: Make Their Day
The third secret is all about customers.
Customers should feel good about the environment, and the way to do that was to engage them.
Secret Number Four: Be Present
The fourth secret, just as the third one, is customer-centered as well.
Employees should always be present, aware of the moment and fully engaged in the work they do. They should pay attention to the customers.
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Our Critical Review
“Fish!” is a quick read suitable for all people feeling trapped in a bad environment. It is no doubt one of the most influential and remarkable books we have read on the topic of change management.