When Fish Fly: Lessons For Creating a Vital and Energized Workplace (2004)

when fish flyJohn Yokoyama and Joseph Michelli. When Fish Fly: Lessons For Creating a Vital and Energized Workplace. New York: Hyperion Books, 2004. 158 pp. $14.63

Whenever I have the chance to take a guest to Seattle, one of the first places on the list is Pike Place Market. Anyone that knows anything about Pike Place knows that the tour would be incomplete without visiting the World Famous Pike Place Fish Market. Each guest has a chance to see fresh salmon flying through the air. The seafood acrobatics are matched by an enthusiastic team committed to fulfilling the vision of the market. But there’s nothing fishy about this Seattle-based company. Everything that unfolds before the guests is carefully thought out. The details are revealed in the book When Fish Fly: Lessons For Creating a Vital and Energized Workplace by John Yokoyama and Joseph Michelli.

When Fish Fly is an inside look at the success of the Pike Place Fish Market. The authors work through eight foundational pillars which drive the business plan:

  1. Creating a vision of power and possibility as a team.
  2. Enrolling and formalizing individual commitment and team alignment to the vision.
  3. Helping team members distinguish between the state of being and the state of doing.
  4. Having the leadership redefine themselves as effective agents of change.
  5. Assisting team members in letting go of internal and external conversations that rob them of their personal power.
  6. Guiding team members to listen to make a difference instead of listening to defend or blame.
  7. Helping the crew live their commitment to one another through effective coaching.
  8. Assisting crew members as they turn snags into breakthroughs.

Each of the business principles is explained and explored in greater detail. Yokoyama’s tale is sure to inspire new entrepreneurs and veteran business people alike. There are many nuggets here to mull over ruminate on. But the one thing that stands above all is the commitment the author to people. The author is more concerned with influencing people than a financial payout. Yokoyama writes,

“All of us can come together and benefit from generating bold visions of the future. You have an opportunity to positively empower people … I invite you to create a powerful vision for yourself and others in your community.”

When Fish Fly is a worthy read for anyone who has a passion to make a difference in the lives of people. Well done, Mr. Yokoyama!

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