Using the FISH! Philosophy to Build Stronger Teamwork

Published On: June 7, 2023Categories: Blog

With the world more interconnected than ever before and businesses more global than ever before, it’s no surprise that the amount of workplace collaboration we take on has grown significantly over the past several decades.

And with this increase in collaboration and teamwork comes a refocus on organizational efficiency. In the past, organizations would look towards empowering the individual and determining what made each individual succeed or fail in their positions.

But now, more and more workplaces are starting to get deeply analytical about how smaller teams function within an organization–after all, if these workers are all collaborating on a daily basis, then focusing on the team as a unit is surely the most effective place to start increasing operational efficiencies.

Teamwork lessons from Google

A 2016 New York Times article by Charles Duhigg titled “What Google Learned From Its Quest to Build the Perfect Team” took a look at this type of analysis through the lens of one of the world’s largest and most successful companies, Google. This article followed Google as it studied hundreds of its own internal teams to determine what the key differences were that led some teams to great success while others stayed stuck in first gear.

At first, they mostly looked at the sorts of factors that are designed into teams from the beginning: the makeup of the teams’ members, how aligned they were with the overall mission, and even individual skill sets, and found that none of these could fully account for differences in performance outcomes.

Eventually, the study zeroed in on one team that was able to provide unique insights into their success. In response to a less-than-stellar team survey, the manager began meeting more openly with the team–not just about work, but about sharing their personal lives and supporting each other through struggles and successes alike.

By opening up to each other on a more personal level, the team became more honest and forthright with each other about work issues, allowing management to respond appropriately and make the team feel more supported and valued. Team members even admitted to seeing the change within themselves, noting that they felt more fulfilled after breaking down the wall separating “work” from “life.”

Forging connections with the FISH! Philosophy 

While this New York Times article never mentions Google engaging with the FISH! Philosophy directly, it’s hard not to see the parallels between the traits shared with most successful teams and the core pillars of FISH!.

To start, the actions of the manager to turn his team around are a brilliant example of putting Choose Your Attitude into practice. Rather than sticking with a regular, perfectly “professional” managerial method, he intentionally chose to offer his team something more personal, bringing in an attitude of openness and vulnerability that his team mirrored back to him.

In doing so, the team was able to Be There for each other–leaning on one another for support not just in the workplace, but with their outside lives as well. After all, team members noticed that most of their friends were made through the workplace, so they should Make Their Day by supporting each other in the workplace as friends as well.

By focusing on our very human needs in the workplace, we can create an environment of “psychological safety,” where people feel valued rather than demeaned and feel comfortable engaging in Play and offering up new, potentially risky ideas that they might otherwise be too apprehensive to share.

When a team feels comfortable bringing these ideas out into the open without fear of judgment, you find opportunities to talk through things openly and honestly and eventually land on the type of creative problem solving solutions that make the difference between the most successful collaboration and “business as usual.”

If these all sound like “soft skills,” well, you aren’t necessarily wrong–they are skills focused on improving the relationships and communication we have with those around us. But it feels almost dismissive to use the word “soft,” as these FISH! skills are absolutely vital to providing the strong structure that makes a team capable of true greatness.

Ideas to Reflect On:

  • How does your team function together? Do you collaborate successfully, or does it feel like a collection of unattached individuals?
  • How much do you know about others on your team? Do you share your feelings, struggles, and successes, or is it “just business” all the time?
  • Does everyone on your team feel comfortable sharing ideas, even if they’re unorthodox? How can you create an environment where people won’t feel as though their ideas will be immediately shot down?

Whether you work in business, education, or healthcare, FISH! offers accessible, intuitive solutions to empower your workers, bring your team together, and avoid the symptoms of impending burnout. We invite you to contact us today at 800.695.4534 or to speak with our cultural specialists, who will help you find the right FISH! Philosophy solutions that will nurture your organizational culture and motivate your team!

Want to Implement FISH! in your organization?

Are you a leader?  Do you train others?  Do you want others to be leaders?

Charthouse Learning, the creator of the world-famous, award-winning, FISH! film is offering an in-person, 2-day workshop, interactive Train-the-Trainer lead by our Senior Trainer.

During our time together you’ll learn how to:

  • Share the motivation and foundation of FISH!
  • Introduce the FISH! film with the four practices.
  • Present the invitation to apply the practices in everyday interaction with others.
  • Build a sustainability and reinforcement program to transform the culture.
  • Pick up tips from other FISH! Philosophers and develop a strategy to embed the practices into the DNA of your culture.
  • Create an energized organization that is the “first choice” for employees, faculty, staff, leaders, and customers.

Plus, you will learn how to create a workplace where people choose to “be and bring” their best self everywhere, every day.

At the FISH! Train the Trainer you will:

  • Dive Deep: Discover The FISH! Philosophy – full of “A-ha!” takeaways and perspective-shifting realizations.
  • Transform: Make the four FISH! practices – Play, Be There, Make Their Day and Choose Your Attitude – an essential part of your professional and personal skill set.
  • Discover: Learn practical ways to apply the FISH! practices to improve teamwork, service, leadership, retention and performance.
  • Develop: Brainstorm strategies to embed The FISH! Philosophy into the DNA of your culture, strengthening your mission, vision and values.
  • Collaborate: Learn and laugh with like-minded folks from across the globe.

Click Here for More FISH! Train the Trainer Information

FISH! Executive Briefing

You have probably heard about the Culture Shift in the news. Organizations are struggling to find talent, employee morale is low, retention is a common goal and customers are dissatisfied with buying experiences.

These are all symptoms of an underlying challenge leadership is faced with every day, regardless of the industry. You can look for temporary relief or an overall, long-term cure.

Join us for a 60-minute webinar on the world-famous, award-winning FISH! practices.

Click Here for More FISH! Executive Briefing Information


Whether you work in business, education, or healthcare, FISH! offers accessible, intuitive solutions to empower your workers, bring your team together, and introduce Play into your organization. We invite you to contact us today at 800.695.4534 or to speak with our cultural specialists, who will help you find the right FISH! Philosophy solutions that will nurture your organizational culture and motivate your team!

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