Play at work

Welcome to Part 3 of our three-blog series on things you may not know about The FISH! Philosophy. Last week we revealed that what you “leave in the car” when you go into work each day can help you find new happiness and success at work. Here’s another little-known fact about FISH! and how it can help you:    

3. The fishmongers started throwing fish to boost productivity.

Most people think the fishmongers throw fish for entertainment. Customers do love “the show”, amazing catches and all. But the fishmongers didn’t do it for applause and laughter. They threw fish to solve a business problem.

Years ago, when the fishmongers made a sale, they had to walk 15 steps around the counter to get the fish and 15 steps back to ring up the purchase. One day, tired of the long commute, a fishmonger threw the fish over the counter to a fellow employee. Eureka! A more efficient delivery method was created. It felt like something you would do if you were “world famous.” The fact that customers loved it was a bonus.

Throwing fish has become a symbol of the playful environment at Pike Place Fish Market. It’s fun for the fishmongers to throw fish and fun for everyone who watches. But Play is more than just an activity like tossing crabs or salmon. It’s a mindset you can bring to everything you do.

Play is closely linked to learning. Anywhere creativity flourishes, some type of Play is happening. We learn the same way we did as children, by “playing” with new ideas.

But people must feel safe before they are willing to try new approaches and sometimes make the mistakes that are essential for learning. It takes a lot of trust and a clear understanding of the organization’s goals and values.

Sometimes when people watch FISH!, they get stuck on throwing. “We don’t sell fish,” they say. “What can we throw?” The fishmongers have the answer: “There are a million different ways of playing. It doesn’t have to be throwing a fish!” Teachers, nurses or engineers will Play differently than the fishmongers do.

Play is the lighthearted feeling you release inside people when they are enthused and free of fear. Play is the freedom to serve your customers in a way that is helpful, genuine and spontaneous. It’s taking a challenge, like the fishmongers did, and figuring out how to solve it. It’s doing serious work but not always taking yourself so seriously as you do it.

What does Play look like for you and your colleagues? How might it help you enjoy your work more and serve your customers more effectively? That’s Play.

Thanks for reading. Look for another FISH! blog, with fresh insights, in the coming weeks!