Fish! and Fish! Sticks (Book Review)
by Sharon Flemings

This month, I found two delightful little books entitled Fish! and Fish! Sticks, by Stephen C. Lundin, Ph.D., John Christensen, and Harry Paul. Told in a light and entertaining way, through the eyes of fictional characters, these books offer suggestions on creating change in an organization. These books are a quick read, but provide valuable lessons and strategies to usher in effective change and reenergize any organization.

Their first book, Fish!, discusses four key concepts in establishing change – Choose Your Attitude, Play, Make Their Day, and Be Present. Told through the story of a new manager in a financial services organization who inherited a “toxic energy dump” with her new promotion, the authors describe how an organization can be rejuvenated through some relatively simple steps.

·         Choose your attitude – while we may not necessarily be able to choose our work each day, we can choose the attitude with which we approach our work. Each person in the organization can choose to excel and bring their best efforts, or do just enough to get by.

·         Play – it’s okay to be serious about your work and accomplishing the goals, but you can still have fun doing the work. A little play in the day relieves stress, and helps create an environment that allows for creativity, innovation and energy.

·         Make Their Day – Look for as many ways as possible to create great moments in a person’s day. Imagine what a workplace would look like if our goals was to “make the day” of our customers and each other.

·         Be Present – Be fully engaged in your current activity – whether on the phone, speaking with someone or working on a particular task. Be fully present and attentive to your actions and any other person. This level of attention communicates volumes about the importance of others, or what you’re doing.

Fish! Sticks tells the story of a hospital administrator who has made some changes in the organizational culture, but is concerned that the initial euphoria will fade after time. Her challenge is to inspire her employees to keep the energy and motivation – make change “stick”. In this tale, our hospital administrator learns her lessons from a local sushi establishment known for their high energy, and exceptional food and customer service. In this book, we learn:

·         Find IT- while our individual organization has a unique vision, we need to find our “part” in IT. What does the organizations overall vision mean to our workgroup, and what does it mean to me personally? Each member of the group will contribute to the realization of the vision, but in different ways based on how the vision resonates within.

·         Live IT – Living IT means looking for and taking advantage of the opportunities we each have every day to reinforce or creatively extend our vision. They are the day-to-day manifestations of the vision that other people see and experience. The authors call these “vision moments”.

·         Coach IT – providing and receiving open, honest feedback about the organizations vision and our part in it, is vital to strengthening and sustaining an organization. We all need periodic reminders of our commitments and the vision of what we’re trying to create together.

I strongly recommend these books to people trying to make and/or sustain change in an organization. As the authors point out, it is not enough to rely on the initial external energy a significant shift creates in a group. We must change that energy into an internal, self-sustaining energy that will last.


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