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Fish! Philosophy

Fish! Philosophy

Fish! Philosophy

Has anyone had experience working within the IT branch, (or for an IT firm), of a company employing the fish! philosphy in the work environment?

What kind of 'activities'/'entertainments' were utilised?

How did the company employ the philosophy?

What effect did it have?

My employer, (FTSE 100 non IT, with in-house IT dept), are now showing the Fish! videos and leaving the changes to us, but are allowing us to embrace as much of/as little of this philosophy  as we feel we should, (no more management dictates instructing us on how to enjoy the job! Hoorah!), but as I've only seen the vid.'s today  was curious as to how this may have been utilised elsewhere...

For anyone curious as to what the hell I'm waffling on about check out http://www.FishPhilosophy.com

It's interesting if nothing else...

Thought out... Maybe,
Opinionated... Probably
But it is only an opinion!

RE: Fish! Philosophy

We started to implement the FISH! idea and one of the big hits was the 'graffiti wall.'  We hung old green bar on one wall and let people write/draw what they wanted, within professional limits.  It was a hugh hit.  Everyone had something on the wall.

Let me know if you think this will work.


RE: Fish! Philosophy

At my last company, my manager required everyone to read the "Who Moved my Cheese" book.  Obvious stuff, but coming as a dictate as it did, it didn't go over very well.

Like I've said before, hiring good people is *the* most important thing a boss can do.  Making sure that they have the right skills is just the beginning - they need to have the right attitude as well - You don't want a negative whiney person to bring down everyone else.

Chip H.

RE: Fish! Philosophy

Please forgive my ignorience, but what is the "Fish!" policy?

RE: Fish! Philosophy

See the link in the first post.

RE: Fish! Philosophy

The Fish Philosophy meeting I went to was the single most important insulting meeting I've ever sat through. No one in my office did a darn thing toward it and the whole thing was trashed.

I'm in NO way a do-nothing sort--I agressively seek out work to do. But I HATE corporate BS, and that's exactly what the fish thing is, in my eyes.

Might as well buy everyone a tee-shirt and expect them to work harder because of it.

Of course, that's just an opinion <g>.


Jeremy Wallace
AlphaBet City Dataworks
Affordable Development, Professionally Done

Please post in the appropriate forum with a descriptive subject; code and SQL, if referenced; and expected results. See Thread181-473997 for more pointers.

RE: Fish! Philosophy

Well, I visited the Fish site and it crashed my elderly copy of Netscape without even giving me the normal "you would do better to view this in a more up-to-date browser" warning. Indication of fish everyone-is-welcome policy?

So I went back and looked with up-to-date explorer, and nearly drowned in fishy enthusiasm spread over many colourful pages. I now know what it'll cost me to hire a fish video, but I still don't know what fish is about.

Also all the pictures were of Young happy people. Do older people not exist in the workplace, or are they just too miserable to photograph?

Improving the workplace is a jolly good idea, but the general problem with corporate improvement schemes is that they are often very exclusive (even though they usually make a point of saying they're not). Some otherwise happy, cooperative people find them gruesome and miserable. Even where a management has been good enough to say "take part as much or as little as you want", there is often an underlying aura of "..but of course only miserable spoilsports won't enjoy themselves."

Of course fish might be different (couldn't say from their website), but I'm deeply suspicious.

Work should be fun. People should communicate with each other. If it isn't, and they don't, then hiring a video is unlikely to change things.

RE: Fish! Philosophy

As silly and unprofessional as their website looks, I would never give it a second thought -- that, and the obvious lack of information.

RE: Fish! Philosophy

At my previous employer, we would hold monthly international luncheons.  People who had traveled would present a slide show/discussion of the country, we would have appropriate food, and also celebrate birthdays.  For St. Patrick's Day we had a pitures of Ireland and corned beef & cabbage; Cinco de Mayo, we had pictures of Baja and Mexican food, we even had a Chinese luncheon!  It was a nice change, we got to learn about our co-workers, other countries and food.  Most people participated even with the $5 payment for lunch.


There are 10 types of people in the world -
those who understand binary
those who don't!

RE: Fish! Philosophy


Yeah, that sounds great--it's organic, it's real, it's related to the people who are there, it's fun. The only potential problem I could imagine is if there was pressure to participate. Much better than these bogus notions of motivation put out on glossy paper. Cheers to whoever organized that.


Jeremy Wallace
AlphaBet City Dataworks
Professional Development for Clients Large and Small

Please post in the appropriate forum with a descriptive subject; code and SQL, if referenced; and expected results. See Thread181-473997 for more pointers.

RE: Fish! Philosophy

Yes, that sounds a very good one. So much depends on the attitudes of those organising and taking part. After all, if someone has special dietary requirements, or just knows they really hate spicy food, there's no earthly reason why they shouldn't come to a presentation about India (or wherever) and bring their own sandwiches... and still feel that they've taken part, and are part of the group.

I think it's key not to ask too much about why people do or don't do particular activities. After all, if the few dollars for the meal are someone's difference between a red and a black bank balance, they're not going to appreciate that information being dragged out of them. And if you don't pressurise people, most will enjoy a few less formal, relaxing moments at work. It's the obligation that creates resentment.

RE: Fish! Philosophy

all of our presenters were volunteers, no one was forced to attended and everyone was welcome whether they ate the provided meal or brought there own.  Now this was a fairly small company (less than 50 employees), but it was a nice optional gathering with good food and good conversation.


RE: Fish! Philosophy

Now I've seen it all.  I think FISH stands for Finger In Sinus Hole.

This looks like another pie in the sky program that trys to create morale by decree.  In other words, commanding everyone be happy makes them happy.  The other thing these programs do is to try and teach common sense (which, for the most part, you're either born with or not).  It's amazing to me how much market there is for this stuff.  I guess it shouldn't be surprising at all though.  Everyone is always looking for the quick fix that will magically solve everything with little or no effort on their own part.  

It's an amazing hypocrisy that business schools teach aspiring managers (rightly so) that their own creativity applied to the one of a kind problems of their own unique business is what creates lasting success.  But, faced with the real world, so many of these same visionaries flock to buy these programs, shell out a fortune to bring in some motivational speakers, launch with a huge fanfare then expect to be ruling the world in a month.

I know of a group that were huge believers in "magic bullet" solutions.  They went through a half dozen kinds of Special High Intensity Training over the course of a few years.

The saddest thing about it all is how unnecessary it is.  Common sense, treating the workforce with respect enough to explain management decisions, showing respect for something other than the short term stock price and treating everyone fairly is about all you need to create good morale and a world class organization.  To a large degree these programs are demeaning to management by making them think there are simple, easy solutions and demeaning to staff by assuming they can't get fired up without resorting to rah-rah programs.

Most of these programs have some good ideas buried in with the chaff, but this FISH thing looks like an especially new age and unprofessional waste to me.

If your mind is too open your brains will fall out...

RE: Fish! Philosophy

We've recently 'rolled' out the FISH philosophy in our IT department.
Divided up the department (randomily) into the 4 ideals and then had a task to compete for a half day off. The task was to demonstrate(present) how we would implement our ideals into the department while taking into account the other 3.
It was fun, we were given 1 hour a week per person and 8 weeks to complete it.  In the end all of us 'won', of course as everyones was brillant.
Overal I think about 60% of the department participated ...a bit disappointing. We now have to implement the presentation. Watch this space...

RE: Fish! Philosophy

Ok, I read the entire thread about Fish! and may get booo'd off the thread but we actually implemented Fish! in our IT department about 18 months ago.

Result:  very mixed opinions.

We were stung with very bad morale problem due to the not having what MasterRacker says is 'common sense' - treating the workforce with respect and treating everyone fairly.

It was implemented using a team of 4 volunteer "Fish Mongers" who were assigned to plan something for a quarter of the year, iow 4 teams per year.  One team setup the "You Made Someone's Day" award which put a huge hanging sign over a staff's cube for 3-months, the next team placed white boards up and periodically switched out topics on the white board.  They started out like "what is your favorite X" and we had everyone putting their answer (along with their name) on the board.  Every week or so the topic changes... this has been a huge success and is still going strong.  We did a traveling award, whereas you could take the big stuff fish and place it on the desk of someone who did something good for you, they then passed it along to the next awardee.   Our meeting room has glass walls and when we put up cling-on fish to initially promote the program the conference room was nicknamed the aquarium and many agreed with the posters in this thread that this is an extremely juvenile program and it made us look like a pre-school.  

Other problems... you run out of ideas after a while and its harder for the teams to come up with quick, easy ideas.  The teams are also starting to have their second go around being a Fish Monger, and feel that despite their efforts the real problem still isn't fixed.

We are ready for a new kick start... anyone?

RE: Fish! Philosophy

Web browsing restrictions keep me from viewing the fish site. (shows up as "shopping")
Step one (at this point) is to figure out what your "real problem" is. (are?)
Are there problems with percieved lack of respect and unfairness? Figure it out- maybe the 'fish' program can help you address it, or maybe not.
What do YOU think needs to be done?

RE: Fish! Philosophy

It amazes me that some managers/companies seem to think that these moral boosting programs can work in the long term. If done right they can make people feel a little better for a short time but if the workload is too high, expected time put in is too high, salaries too low, bonuses lacking, and management full of micromanagers it won't work.

I experienced this at one point in a company when we had a big project that was running late and were all working many extra hours to catch it up. The company went and had their mandatory yearly meeting during this time which is supposed to be a bit of a moral boosting thing. the whole time sitting in the meeting all I could think of is that every hour in that meeting was an extra hour of my personal time that I had to put in to get my work done.

My point is that these programs are crap on to themselves. I do think that if conditions are already good at a company then moral boosting programs can be good. The company has to invest their time into these programs.. not impose additionally on the employees already limited time. Most of us do have lives and families outside of work.

RE: Fish! Philosophy

Wow - is this thread still alive ?!?


"Vampireware /n/,a project, capable of sucking the lifeblood out of anyone unfortunate enough to be assigned to it, which never actually sees the light of day, but nonetheless refuses to die."

"I see dead pixels!"

RE: Fish! Philosophy

So Thys666, how did it go then ?

RE: Fish! Philosophy

My agency started using the FISH philosophy and the department has really made a HUGE turnaround in terms of attitude.  

Some of the things we've done:

Every member of management within the department has made 1 FISH related goal that he/she has to meet on a weekly/monthly basis.  One manager made the goal that he would get out of his office and chat with staff about nothing work related just to get to know folks better.  

We get together on Fridays for lunch as a department.  Sometimes we order in, sometimes we go out, but we always try and have lunch together.

We put up a bulletin board with funny pictures, a quote of the week, recipes and a daily trivia question.  We found that asking trivia questions about folks in the department worked REALLY well, better than asking Trivial Pursuit questions.

We bought foam balls that we throw over cube walls at eachother.

We have candy baskets everywhere.

We always celebrate someone's birthday with a cake and at least a card and everyone in the department makes a point of coming.

Occasionally, we throw on some music and have a 10-minute dance party to loosen up.

People constantly bring good stuff into the department to munch on during the day.

We had a staff-organized pot-luck lunch where everyone brought in a dish and we took a break to eat and visit with one another.  

Those are just some of the things we've done and they've really worked well.

RE: Fish! Philosophy


Some people might feel uncomfortable with the situation you describe but that aside - has there been any demonstrable productivity or efficiency gain yet?

My organisation tries a lot of this touchy-feely stuff but I don't know what good it does.


RE: Fish! Philosophy


Yes, there are some people who don't feel comfortable letting loose and dancing around the office (mostly us younger staff), however, there has been nobody who hasn't participated in the rest.  In terms of productivity, the answer is yes.  Prior to us starting the FISH model, morale was very low, thereby damaging productivity.  Now, morale is much higher, people have been taking initiative to take on large projects themselves.  It's been great.

RE: Fish! Philosophy


...get together on Fridays for lunch...
...have candy baskets everywhere...
...celebrate someone's birthday with a cake...
...bring good stuff into the department to munch on...
...staff-organized pot-luck lunch...

So apparently the FISH philosophy is to "give a man a fish"?

What's with all the eating?  People are facing higher and higher health insurance and medical costs as a result of increased weight and sugary/fatty diets.  This cost is supposedly hitting corporations in the benefit-wallet.  If so, it would seem that a FISH philosophy such as this, only contributes to fatter cattle... I mean employees.


RE: Fish! Philosophy

Culturally speaking, food does bring people together.  Just because we have food doesn't mean that we're all overweight and spending all our days eating french fries.  It is quite an assumption you make that we're "fatter cattle."  

Most of the people in our department, actually, are vegetarians/vegans/healthnuts.  Nearly everyday, many of us take 45 minutes or so to go for a walk and there is a gym across the street from our office.  

Candy baskets are sitting in many of the offices, yes, but that's about the only "sugary sweet" that is available.  We don't even have vending machines.  

Potlucks are an EXCELLENT and inexpensive way for teambuilding.  People get to know eachother, become invested in another person's presence in the office and are more likely or willing to embody the FISH priniciples.  

RE: Fish! Philosophy

Slightly off-topic, but has anyone read Now, Discover Your Strengths and taken the StrengthFinder?  Our team of accounting and IT support folks are going to give it a go.

BTW, sadly food usually is the way to get people to participate.


RE: Fish! Philosophy

They tried to implement the FISH! philosophy in our department also. But while mgmt was all for these activities, they never let up on their constant demands. Many of us were stressed out due to impossible deadlines, and then we get told "STOP WHAT YOU'RE DOING!!! Work on these puzzles!".

Do what??? You want me to get this "no-fail" project completed in the expected deadline and then you want me to stop and do puzzles???

I think the FISH philosophy is a good one. The example of the co-worker making a point to speak to a fellow employee about non-work-related things just to get to know them better, is a good thing. Forcing people to do puzzles, come up with ideas to have band-aid fun, is not.

The originators of the Fish philosophy started with just yelling in unison, the order of a customer. They did not start with feel-good BS. The people themselves had a healthy respect for each other. They just wanted to liven up their workspace. Respect and trust comes first.

If implemented correctly, with a healthy respect level among employees and also from management, this philosophy would help make employment more fun than what it is. However, being told "be happy, or else" is just not going to work.

RE: Fish! Philosophy

Happy Campers,

I don't know if everyone on here was being serious or not, but it really made me smile.
The lesson learned here is that no matter what a company does, there are ALWAYS people who are going to complain about it no matter what.  The ideas listed above were great.  My company occasionally gives bonus and almost everyone complains.  Why do they have to take out taxes?  Blah blah blah….
The company's only job to you is to make sure you get a paycheck - PERIOD.  Your only job is to make sure the company is around to provide you with that paycheck.  
I feel old saying this, being 39 years old, but I don't go to work to have fun or to get praise.  I go to work to provide for my family, PERIOD.  I do notice the younger workers, born past 1980, expect immediate results and praise.  When they don’t get it, they fall to pieces.  I think it’s part of the crude I see my kids going through.  In little league and the various competitions they have, there are NO losers!!  It’s shocking.  Nor they do not keep score.  So I started keeping score to teach my children the value of winning but more importantly, what happens when they lose… I don’t care if their feelings get hurt, they need to be tough to compete in the global market place.
AND, so we do we - good luck!!

RE: Fish! Philosophy

Morale is often low because workers trust management.  They trust that
- Management doesn't give a damn about people, just the pretty charts and reports they make at the end of the year.
- Management will screw the workers every chance they get, sometimes even when it's counterproductive.
- No matter how good they do the job, management might still toss them out on their ear.
- People who give 110% just make management expect it as the minimum.
- Management has no clue how things are done in the real world because they've never gotten their hands dirty doing actual work.

I'd be insulted to have this fish crap shoved at me - it'd be management's attempt to get contented cattle. I've worked for the same company for 27 years and there's been both good management and bad. It's a lot harder to do a good job with bad management. Most people want to do a good job and will work to their potential (except some of those kids jloz mentioned smile) if management would just get out of the way.

MasterRacker had it dead on:


The saddest thing about it all is how unnecessary it is.  Common sense, treating the workforce with respect enough to explain management decisions, showing respect for something other than the short term stock price and treating everyone fairly is about all you need to create good morale and a world class organization.  To a large degree these programs are demeaning to management by making them think there are simple, easy solutions and demeaning to staff by assuming they can't get fired up without resorting to rah-rah programs.

The keyword here is respect. Some upper management, with their MBA's and market theories and elitism often treat the people who do the actual work as stupid - they don't respect the staff, their ideas, experience, or intelligence. Often, the way to fix morale problems is not to throw fish at the workers, it's to change poor management.

And before you get the impression I'm a lowly peon who's just ragging off, I am management - but I have managers too.

RE: Fish! Philosophy

Bottom line.    It is about relationship which makes it work.   If you have good, solid, respectful, relationships, everyone is happy, if they are capable of being happy anyway.   That takes being real, being honest, giving a crap about people.  It is a two way street, when management cares, workers usualy follow suit.   Programs can be ways to help develope relationships, but if the relationships are not the priority, and the program is, nothing changes.   You could play cards and chat, if that creates an atmosphere where people start having positive respectful relationships because of it, then call it the Hoyle program, it all works.

You do not always get what you pay for, but you never get what you do not pay for.

RE: Fish! Philosophy

Another meaning of FISH which I just became aware of. Franklin Is Still Here. The 300th Anniversary of Ben Franklin's birthday just recently occurred, and there are a small number of FISH'ers who believe Franklin is still alive, either because he discovered time travel or for some other reasons. This is not a joke (at least to them).

You remember Ben Franklin, right?  The guy with his picture on the $100 bill.  And he was never president.

The trouble with doing something right the first time is that nobody appreciates how difficult it was - Steven Wright

RE: Fish! Philosophy

The touchy-feely stuff can be counterproductive.  Frankly, if management feels the need to continually snow me about how important and special everyone is the reason is often because they aren't.

Most IT people are fairly driven and hold their own work to a high standard.  Likewise, I don't have to like the people I work with, I just have to produce.  In truth I DO like almost all of my coworkers, but to me that is a nicety, not a requirement.  Here is what I want in a workplace:

1.  Pay according to the market and value the employee provides

2.  Management that feels it is their job to eliminate barriers and bureaucracy that hinder success

3.  Management that RUTHLESSLY gets any dead weight out of the organization.  Nothing kills productive people faster than expecting them to carry others.

4.  Recognition of positive and negative results.  People should know when they contribute to a "win".  If you don't know where you failed how are you going to improve?  

5.  (but maybe the most important)Executives that hold management to even higher standards than line workers.  Executives that protect bad managers destroy companies.

RE: Fish! Philosophy

FYI for those interested... FISH is about a life philosophy that if / when applied in the workplace can improve a lot of things, primarily the way you feel at the end of another grueling day, but it's mainly common sense stuff.

There are four main concepts highlighted in FISH! They are the ingredients that make the World Famous Pike Place Fish Market an engaging environment for workers and customers alike.

These concepts are:

Play is not a specific game or activity.  It is a state of mind that brings new energy to the tasks at hand and sparks creative solutions.

Make their Day
If you find your energy lapsing, find someone who needs a helping hand, a word of support, or a good ear-and make their day.

Choose your Attitude
Your attitude is your reaction to what life hands you, and only you can choose that reaction.

Be There
To "be there" is to be fully engaged in the moment, inviting opportunities, and sharing the experience together.

RE: Fish! Philosophy

PMCB does not spell FISH!



"Bad spelers of the werld--UNTIE!"

RE: Fish! Philosophy


1.  Pay according to the market and value the employee provides

2.  Management that feels it is their job to eliminate barriers and bureaucracy that hinder success

3.  Management that RUTHLESSLY gets any dead weight out of the organization.  Nothing kills productive people faster than expecting them to carry others.

4.  Recognition of positive and negative results.  People should know when they contribute to a "win".  If you don't know where you failed how are you going to improve?  

5.  (but maybe the most important)Executives that hold management to even higher standards than line workers.  Executives that protect bad managers destroy companies.

Man, you should write a book...

RE: Fish! Philosophy

We did the fish and cheese thing a coupe of years ago. I'm glad to see that I'm not the only IT person who was insulted by this poor attempt at psychological team building. Managers think it's a good idea. Workers...not so much. The guy that was running it was a temporary IT director (consultant). He was a pleasant, likable guy. Kind of reminded me of a high-strung personal trainer. Most of our staff (30+ size and ages) just wanted it over with.

My suggestion, remove the fish. It gets in the way of real teamwork. I get more satisfaction from a job well done than that of making a rope into a circle.


RE: Fish! Philosophy

Wow, a blast from the past.

Quote (myself):

Like I've said before, hiring good people is *the* most important thing a boss can do.

I still feel this way.  After conducting interviews myself, I believe in it even more.  There's a lot of software devs out there who don't understand the concept of professional development....

Chip H.

If you want to get the best response to a question, please read FAQ222-2244 first

RE: Fish! Philosophy

FISH is great, it allows all of your slackers, angry people and dissassociated individuals (read unix techs) to randomly throw stuff at one another.  I have been with 2 companies who implemented this, in the second i was assigned as a leader, it is difficult to see past the BS of it and take anything truly productive out of it.  Kudos to anyone who sees total companywide productivity grow as a result, but woe unto those who bring this into IT.  It is great for a customer care call center but for the IT department, pick a nice multiplayer shooter like Unreal Tournament and wail on each other during the lunch hour. (be sure to set up a gaming VLAN)  animosity between a programmer and a sys admin - take it into deathmatch.  Don't like the help desk guy always assigning you the hard tickets... deathmatch.  It is amazing what this philosophy has done for my guys.   Otherwise we might have FightCLub.

RE: Fish! Philosophy

     I do not know about fish, but my experience tells me that these type programs are for people who do not know how to create a rich work environment without a cookie cutter philosophy program to adhere to.  
     My style is find out who the people are, form relationships, treat the people on my team as if they are better than myself, invest myself in them personally as a mentor, which means it is not always about the companies advancement.   Also, work should be fun, if your people doi not know how to do it that way, teach them.

     I do like the video games approach as it really can help with tension to have a little fun, and games!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

RE: Fish! Philosophy

If management does there job properly then the smoke and mirrors approach isn't needed.  What they are trying to do is rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic.  When a company is run properly you don't need the FISH'y approach, and if it isn't, then it isn't going to make any difference.  As soon as they offer food and not money your screwed anyway.  If you got food and money, what was that company name?

Jim C.

RE: Fish! Philosophy

well..tdy in my email was an email from my boss:

"....... this will be a fun upbeat meeting which will include lunch.  Find out what the Fish Philosophy is all about!"

I had a feeling I knew what this was about when I started reading this forums discussions...and I am definitely not looking forward to this mtg...another "dog and pony show", if you will.....the morale would be up if we got rid of the ineffective managers we have added to our company lately...

RE: Fish! Philosophy


fun upbeat meeting


Well, I suppose Friday always was the traditional fish 'n' chips day!

I want to be good, is that not enough?

RE: Fish! Philosophy

And you will have fun whether you like it or not!

Jim C.

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