Saturday, November 19, 2011

Several years ago I read an inspirational book called Fish! which recounts the tale of a manager who is given the task of “sorting out” the worst department in her organisation – a department that everyone hated to deal with and that everyone hated to work in. The nickname was The Toxic Energy Dump.

The story retells how, by chance, she stumbled across help in the unlikeliest of places – the Pike Place fish market in Seattle.  There she learned four principles that transformed her department and her worklife:

1. Work Made Fun Gets Done
2. Make Someone’s Day
3. Be Fully Present
4. Choose Your Attitude

 The take home lesson from Fish! is that we make our work miserable by the way we behave towards each other.   So if we are unhappy at work and we do nothing about our behaviour then our misery will continue.

This means we can choose to make work enjoyable – and it is the responsibility of leaders at all levels to create the context for this to happen.  Miserable staff = poor leadership.  And leadership starts with the leader.  

  • Effective leadership is inspiring others to achieve through example.
  • Leadership does not work without trust. 
  • Play is more than an activity – it is creative energy – and requires a culture of trust not a culture of fear. 
  • To make someone’s day all you need to so is show them how much you appreciate them. 
  • The attitude and behaviour of a leader has a powerful effect on those that they lead.
  • Effective leaders know what they stand for and ask others to hold them to account.

FISH has another meaning – it stands for Foundations of Improvement Science for Health – and it is the core set of skills needed to create a SELF – a Safe Environment for Learning and Fun.  The necessary context for culture change. It is more than that though – FISH also includes the skills to design more productive processes – releasing valuable lifetime and energy to invest in creative fun.  

Fish are immersed in their environment – and so are people. We learn by immersion in reality. Rhetoric – be it thinking, talking or writing – is a much less effective teacher.

So all we have to do is co-create a context for improvement and then immerse ourselves in it. The improvement that results is an inevitable consequence of th design. We design our system for improvement and it improves itself.

To learn more about Foundations of Improvement Science for Health (FISH)  click: here