The FISH! Philosophy and Organizational Culture

Do you know about the FISH! Philosophy? FISH! Philosophy is a fun and forward thinking system that provides tools and language to create an organizational culture booming with inspiration, fun, creativity, and innovation. It is a consciousness that you and your co-workers adopt –over time- to create a workplace culture that is fun, productive, and produces a vibrant culture each time it is embraced. The four tenants of the FISH Philosophy are simple, yet powerful; Be Present, Make Their Day, Play, Choose Your Attitude.

How do I know about the FISH! Philosophy? Well, many years ago, I worked at a university in the Midwest that bought the entire training package to the campus, trained me as a trainer, and we implemented the program campus-wide. Now, it was a slow process and not everyone embraced the concepts at first, but over the course of five years and a little dedication, our department literally changed the way it served students and encouraged the naysayers to join in.

The FISH! Philosophy aligns with the theory of servant leadership in that;

  • It is an invitation that enables co-workers to care about each other and their responsibilities.
  • It is committed to creating a culture of trust, accountability, fun, and innovation,
  • It encourages the ability to awaken the consciousness of self-trust, creative, and fun spirit within each of us, and
  • It allows co-workers to empower self and those they serve to the idea of selfless service (a tenet of servant leadership).

Our department took the FISH! Philosophy to heart. We ordered the stuffed toy fish, we created system and processes that included the philosophy into our daily routine and work, and we were encouraged by the evaluations from our students suggesting that our office was the best place on campus to seek help and resources. Indeed, the FISH! Philosophy was infectious and contagious. We even received a visit by the Dean of the campus! He never visited out little shabby building located on the outskirts of campus! Other staff members and administrators across campus commented on how our department seemed to gel together so effortlessly and had fun at work! We knew it. We felt it. And so did they.

One of the activities that proved useful for us was the FISH Bowl and FISH of the Month. So, each month, at the beginning of the month, our administrative assistant would print out the FISH Nominations. Then, all month long, co-workers would grab a FISH nomination, write their name on it, describe the act that another co-worker did that met the four tenants of the philosophy, sign it (signing was optional), and place it in the Fish Bowl. At each end of month staff meeting, the FISH Nominations would be tallied, and a new FISH of the Month would be named. The winner enjoyed a variety of gifts, love, a certificate, and special attention – all month long.

This practice became so engaging that co-workers began looking for ways to create memories for their co-workers. Indeed, it was selfless service at its best. At the end of each monthly staff meeting, we would leave time for colleagues to read all of their FISH nominations from the month. What was so empowering is that one would read a FISH Nomination of something that they had done for a co-worker that they had forgotten they had done. Our internalization of the FISH Philosophy involved valuing others and working to make their day provided a constant flow of positive energy.

When I and others in our department left that university for our next adventures in life, we each took a part of the life energy of the department with us. The ones of us who were left continued on with the FISH! Philosophy. We had created real meaning for our department and for the students we served. And how did we create that meaning? We created ways to make their day, we found ways to play, and we stayed focused while being present, and each day we decided to choose our attitude. I miss the organizational culture we created there. I try to re-create it in my personal life each day.

To Fishing,

Dr. Crystal

Crystal J Davis is a servant leader, blogger, and researcher. She holds a Doctorate in Management specializing in Organizational Leadership. Dr. Davis is passionately engaged in Servant Leadership and selfless service to the nonprofit and public sectors having served both large and small organizations throughout her career and consulting business. Follow Crystal @DrDavis2126 (Twitter) and, Lead.From.Within. (Facebook).

© Copyright 2015 ~Dr. Crystal J. Davis. All Rights Reserved.