Monday, July 26, 2004

Fish Tales by Lundin, Christensen, Paul and Strand

by Asim Jalis

I just read one of the Fish books. This is the series of management books inspired by the Pike Place Fish market, which anyone who visits agrees is a high-energy and fun place to work. The fish people do this by making their work a game. When a customer places an order the cashier yells it out, then the whole team yells it out. Then when the fish is ready they throw it in the air across the store to the cashier, who catches it. The books are written by Lundin, Christensen, Paul and Strand. The Fish philosophy according to them boils down to these ideas: 1. Engagement produces energy rather than drains it. Companies that engage completely with their customers have higher energy than companies that don't. In each engagement you must choose to be completely there. Just you and me. The universe does not exist. It's just us. 2. Turn work into play, and the workplace into a playground. A Sprint call center hung disco balls and turned down the lights and has a party every day. Why not? Take beach balls, toys, anything else you can think of to your work place. Blur the boundaries between work and play. The Sprint call center has done so well that several people have turned down promotions because they don't want to leave. 3. Focus on people and relationships instead of on the bottom line. Redefine your metrics to emphasize focus on people. E.g. a car dealership in Minnesota replaced their profit-based commission with a fixed commission per sale. This reduced the incentive for sales people to overcharge customers. Instead they started using fixed prices and began to focus on understanding their customer's real needs. 4. Look for ways to make the other person's days. Tease them, joke around with them, engage with them, give them gag gifts. In a nursing home nurses started giving each other and patients plastic fish each time someone did something worthwhile. Soon the fish became gift currency and people began to react to them more powerfully than to other incentives. They boil this down into four principles which are: (a) Play. (b) Make their day. (c) Be there. (d) Choose your attitude.