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FISH! Philosophy

FISH! Philosophy
FISH! Philosophy
FISH! Philosophy

What if excellent customer service and great team working could be fun? How could that transform your workplace? Those are the questions behind the FISH! Philosophy. It’s a training programme designed around behaviours that came about spontaneously. And they did so in, of all places, a fish market.

The FISH! Philosophy is a trademarked training programme. So, in this article, we’ll tread lightly in describing its main ideas. If you want to know more, the place to visit is Charthouse Learning’s FISH! Philosophy website.

Why Fish?

The Fish! philosophy started with a visit to Seattle’s Pike Place Market in 1997. By the way, we’ll stop capitalising from here.

Film-maker and Charthouse founder, John Christensen noticed the fishmongers were having fun. They were entertaining customers, and creating a great atmosphere. Instead of treating the job as cold, smelly, hard work, they chose banter, practical jokes and their now-famous fish-throwing. You can see examples in the video at the bottom of the page.

Christensen was intrigued. The story goes that he returned soon after with a film crew. They spent a few days of filming the fishmongers at work. From watching the film, he created a list of four behaviours that seemed to make a big difference.

These behaviours are the core of the Fish! philosophy and its attendant training programme and books. The claim is that it can help any business with:

  • Engagement and morale of staff
  • Customer service
  • Teamwork and trust among staff
  • Retention and recruitment of staff

What is the Fish! Philosophy?

The Fish! Philosophy is the four practices that underpin the training.

But I would argue that the underlying philosophy is about creating a positive energy at work. It does this by tapping into creativity, enthusiasm and playfulness.

The goal of people who commission the training is likely to be to change their workplace culture. They will want their staff to choose to bring their best energy and commitment to work.

So, what are the 4 Practices of the Fish! Philosophy?

These are easy to summarise.

Be There

When you are at work, focus on the job at hand. Don’t let anything else distract you. If you do, you can get lost in the work, achieve flow states and start to enjoy it.


Playfulness is natural. It’s the source of creativity and fun. It also drives curiosity. This is an important motivator and a great way to learn about customers. And, as SPIN selling advocates; this is a key to effective selling.

Make Their Day

Go beyond serving your customers. Find ways to delight them and create emotionally-charged memories. The philosophy goes so far as advocating that you contribute to people’s lives. At the very least, you can bring a smile to their faces, and brighten their life for the moment.

Choose Your Attitude

This is the message of personal responsibility. You’ll find it in most change programmes. We all need to decide whether to enjoy our work or not, and your choice will affect others. Fish! suggests you ask yourself:

Is my attitude helping my team or my customers?

Is it helping me to be the person I want to be?


What is Your experience of the FISH! Philosophy?

We’d love to hear from anyone who has been through the training and seen the Fish! philosophy in your workplace. Share your experiences and we will respond. Please leave them in the comments below.

To learn more, just watch this short video

There is also a plethora of books:

  • Fish!: A remarkable way to boost morale and improve results (US|UK)
  • Fish! Tales: Real stories to help transform your workplace and your life (US|UK)
  • Fish! Sticks: A Remarkable Way to Adapt to Changing Times and Keep Your Work Fresh (US|UK)
  • Fish! For Life: A Remarkable Way to Achieve Your Dreams (US|UK)
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