The FISH! Philosophy, modeled after the Pike Place Fish Market, is a technique which is aimed at creating happy individuals in the workplace. John Christensen created this philosophy in 1998 to improve organizational culture. Its central four ideas, which have been adopted at some companies and schools, are: choose your attitude; play; make someone’s day; and be there.


The Fish! Philosophy is applied in companies as far away as the Middle East. Wild Wadi Water Park, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, uses the video and principles in the socialization process of each of its new hires. The employees also continue to live by its principles under the initiative of the current General Manager, who makes sure that his management style both reflects these principles and that his employees are also working in an environment that allows them to simultaneously have fun and be productive. A visible indicator of this is the team video produced for the Wild Wadi’s version of the Harlem Shake (song). In 2004, the water-park won the SWIM Award for their Front-Line Employee Training Program using “The Fish Philosophy”. The Wild Wadi is not the only company in Dubai to actively use the Fish! philosophy, even the American Hospital uses the video in customer service training for its front-line staff.

Customers such as Bill Bean are aware of when the energy in a business is negative. In an article, he wrote for “The Recorder” he talked about how when he usually visits Ontario Ministry of Health the atmosphere is very dark and cold. On his last visit, the team excitedly welcomed him into the office to renew his Ontario Health Card. The sudden change in the attitude of the staff was all thanks to the implementation of the fish philosophy in day-to-day operations of the business.

Tile Tech, a roofing company in Tacoma, WA, focused on being there for each other to increase awareness of safety hazards, decreasing its injury rate by 50%.

Charlotte Tucker believes Industrial Piping Systems has fully embraced the Fish! ideology, as fish replicas hang from the ceilings and attach to walls to prove it. Christine Wardrop, president of IPS, describes the idea by saying, “They’re the rules of Life… You should focus on them and keep them in your mind”.

Rochester Ford Toyota in Rochester, MN, known for tough negotiating, shifted to a fixed price and an emphasis on making the customer’s day. New car sales doubled and it recorded a 30% rise in customer satisfaction.

In April 2000, the Ford Motor Company decided to incorporate the Fish Philosophy in their training programs. This decision came about as a result of the lack of motivation in a certain division of the company.

Sprint call center in Lenexa, KS, used Play to make the job more fun. Employees selected music for common areas and the dress code was relaxed. Managers worked to Be There by asking employees for their ideas on improving the business. Four-year productivity rose 20% and first-year employee retention increased 25%.